US delivered Öcalan to Turkey to gain control of PKK: Ex-military chief Başbuğ

Interesting! And ex-military chief Başbuğ has no particular reason to love the present government of Turkey.

“The U.S. delivered Abdullah Öcalan, the imprisoned leader of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), to Turkey in 1999 in order to gain control of the group, former Chief of Staff Gen. İlker Başbuğ has claimed, stressing that this is his “personal opinion.”


Not the best of friends, I guess

Once Öcalan was driven out of Syria in 1999 and eventually delivered to Turkey, the PKK “moved out of Syria’s control and came under U.S. control,” Başbuğ told daily Hürriyet in an interview in Washington. He was in the U.S. to take part in a number of closed-door meetings with a range of think tanks in the U.S. capital.

Öcalan’s capture in 1999 came after then President Süleyman Demirel threatened the Syrian government with sending troops to Hatay, on the border with Syria, in the autumn of 1998, following an increase in PKK attacks in Turkey.

Within a week, after diplomatic efforts from the U.S., Egypt and Iran, the Syrian President Hafez al-Assad sent Öcalan away. The PKK leader was ultimately arrested by a Turkish National Intelligence Organization (MİT) team with the cooperation of the CIA in February 1999 at Nairobi Airport.

Sentenced to life in jail, Öcalan is still being held in the İmralı island-prison, south of Istanbul.

“Öcalan went to Syria in 1979. He was there for 20 years. During this period he formed a Kurdish structure that was dependent on him in Syria. While he was living in Damascus, whose control and protection was Öcalan under? The al-Assad regime … the Syrian intelligence organization,” Başbuğ said.

“He was then removed from Syria and delivered to Turkey. The organization [PKK] subsequently moved out of Syria’s control and came under U.S. control,” he added.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News


Turkish prosecutor seeks life in jail for US pastor Andrew Brunson over 2016 coup attempt

Well, Christian “missionaries” have long been working to sow trouble in Turkey, and previously, the Ottoman Empire. In an interesting new development, President Trump has fired Mr Tillerson, and replaced him with former Director of the CIA. Will  ex-Secretary Rex join former US Ambassador to Turkey, John Bass, in exile in Afghanistan? Is the USA in serious crisis?

“A Turkish prosecutor demanded on March 13 life imprisonment for detained American pastor Andrew Brunson over alleged links to the July 2016 coup attempt, Doğan News Agency has reported. 

Pastor Brunson

Pastor Brunson. What was he doing in Turkey, exactly?

The prosecutor in the Aegean province of İzmir has charged Brunson with being a “member and executive of the terrorist group” accused of being behind the coup attempt.

Turkey blames the network of U.S.-based Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen for the attempted coup.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson last month called for Brunson’s release during a visit to Turkey.

“We continue to have serious concerns … about cases against U.S. citizens who have been arrested under the state of emergency,” Tillerson said, referring to the emergency rule that has been in place since July 2016.

“We call upon Turkey to release Pastor Andrew Brunson and other U.S. citizens whom we believe are being unjustly detained.”

Washington and Ankara have been at odds over a number of issues, including U.S. support for the Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which Ankara views as a terrorist group linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and Turkey’s demand for the extradition of Gülen.

Following Tillerson’s visit to Ankara last month, the two countries formed joint working groups to fix their relations.

Source: Hürriyet Daily News

UK asks for Turkish support against Russia over murder attempt

WTF? British Government declares war on Russia – and Turkey rushes to support its old friend. Yeah, sure, Trees!

The United Kingdom has called for Turkey to show solidarity in its dispute with Russia over the attempted murder of a former Russian spy and his daughter on U.K. soil through the use of a nerve agent produced in Russia.

UK ambassador

And what did President Erdoğan have to say on the subject, I wonder?

“I just came back from a meeting at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs where I asked the Turkish government to show solidarity with the U.K. in this matter. I emphasized that the U.K. government would not be deterred from challenging Russia’s aggression and its disregard for international rules and behavior,” British Ambassador to Turkey Dominick Chilcott told reporters in Ankara on March 13.

Chilcott said U.K. ambassadors serving in NATO and prominent Western countries had been instructed to speak to host countries to inform them that London was taking seriously the issue of the poisoning of Sergei Skripal, 66. 

“Russian aggression is not only a threat to the U.K. but to all countries,” he added.

When asked about what particular demands the U.K. has from Turkey given the fact that Ankara is one few NATO countries with good ties with Russia, Chilcott said London does not want any direct Turkish intervention against Russia.

“When I talk about solidarity, I am talking about a sense of mutual understanding of the significance of the attempted murder in the U.K. If the Turkish government wishes to say anything in public or to support action condemning it in NATO or in any other international forum such as at the U.N., of course that would be very much welcome,” he said.

The U.K. is mulling initiatives in NATO, at the U.N. and at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Chilcott stated, stressing that this was the first time a nerve agent has been used in an attempted murder in Europe since 1945. This attack on a former spy who has been living in the U.K. as a result of an agreement that involved the Russian government is just another example of recent Russian aggression, Chilcott stressed, citing the annexation of Crimea and widespread instability in the east of Ukraine.

“These were two people who were living a quiet life. We completely reject the idea that there is some sort of James Bond-like justification for what has happened,” he said.

Source: Hürriyet Daily news

Theresa May issues ultimatum to Moscow

Looks like everyone’s picking fights with everyone these days. I’m not saying Russia did it – but the corporate media don’t make such a fuss when other countries have nationals killed on home turf by US drone strikes.

Prime minister [Theresa May] says origin of nerve agent and past record of assassinations make Russian involvement highly likely

Theresa May has given Vladimir Putin’s administration until midnight on Tuesday to explain how a former spy was poisoned in Salisbury, otherwise she will conclude it was an “unlawful use of force” by the Russian state against the UK.


Watch out for that guy, Trees!

After chairing a meeting of the national security council, the prime minister told MPs that it was “highly likely” that Russia was responsible for the attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia. She warned that Britain would not tolerate such a “brazen attempt to murder innocent civilians on our soil”.

In a statement to the House of Commons that triggered an angry response from Moscow, the prime minister said the evidence had shown that Skripal had been targeted by a “military-grade nerve agent of a type developed by Russia”. Describing the incident as an “indiscriminate and reckless act”, she said that the foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, had summoned the Russian ambassador to Whitehall and demanded an explanation by the end of Tuesday.

Russian officials immediately hit back, with Maria Zakharova, the spokeswoman for the Russian foreign minister, calling the remarks “a provocation” and describing the event as a “circus show in the British parliament”.

Andrei Lugovoi, a Russian member of parliament who stands accused of the 2006 murder of the former Russian agent, Alexander Litvinenko, said May’s decision to point the finger at Moscow so quickly was “at a minimum irresponsible”.

Ministers on the national security council were told that the nerve agent used was from a family of substances known as Novichok. “Based on the positive identification of this chemical agent by world-leading experts at Porton Down, our knowledge that Russia has previously produced this agent and would still be capable of doing so, Russia’s record of conducting state-sponsored assassinations, and our assessment that Russia views some defectors as legitimate targets for assassinations, the government has concluded that it is highly likely that Russia was responsible for the act against Sergei and Yulia Skripal,” she said.

Source: the

The Truth, the Whole Truth, and Nothing but the Truth


The Auckland War Memorial Museum on its spectacular site

I took a trip down memory lane on my recent visit to New Zealand. The War Memorial Museum is arguably Auckland’s most iconic building – if you ignore that upstart Sky Tower with its money-laundering casino. Surrounded by 75 hectares of sculptured gardens, sports fields and semi-wilderness, the museum’s hilltop setting offers a tree-framed view over the harbour to Rangitoto and other islands of the Hauraki Gulf – these days marred somewhat by giant cranes and other paraphernalia of the port container terminal.

According to Wikipedia, the original building, opened in 1929, was constructed partly with the same English Portland stone used for Buckingham Palace and St Pauls Cathedral – requiring a six-week sea-voyage to the uttermost end of the Earth. Quite an expense for a tiny country.

The main hall on the museum’s ground floor is devoted to the indigenous cultures of New Zealand and its regional neighbours – the Māori and their Polynesian cousins who navigated the trackless immensity of the Pacific Ocean centuries before Dutch and English explorers “discovered” it. Taking pride of place in this section are a meeting house, and a 25-metre long war canoe carved from a single log of totara.

Wharenui Ak museum

Restored carvings in Hotunui

As a child I remember the effect of the elaborate carvings in the meeting house muted by a coat of dull red paint applied in the 1950s. Now, I am pleased to learn that a major project is under way to remove that offensive monochrome and restore the splendour of the originals.

A meeting house (wharenui) was the centre-piece of a Māori tribal village, a communal meeting place whose carvings and other works of traditional art recorded the history and origins of the people of the land. Living people shared the house with the spirits of their ancestors, and the house was given a name recognising this metaphysical dimension of its existence.

Auckland Museum’s wharenui is Hotunui, the name of an ancestor of the Tainui people who arrived with the great migration around a thousand years ago. The word can also be translated as “a great mourning, a yearning of the heart”, which may be significant in the light of what I learned of the house’s history. Apparently, it was one of two such meeting houses built in the 1870s by the Ngāti Awa people of Poverty Bay. The government had carried out large-scale confiscations of land after the Te Kooti uprising in the 1860s. According to Te Ara Encyclopedia, The carving of both [houses] was led by Wēpiha Apanui and his father, Apanui Te Hāmaiwaho. Hotunui was, in part, a tribute to Te Hura Te Taiwhakaripi, one of the leaders in the wars of the 1860s. One of the poupou (uprights) in the porch is a carved representation and commemoration of Te Hura, so that the tragedy of the confiscation suffered by Ngāti Awa is memorialised in the meeting house.”

Little of this information, needless to say, is available to the public in the exhibition hall. It seems, by the early 20th century, Hotunui had fallen into disuse and a state of disrepair – not surprising, since the Māori themselves were in danger of disappearing as a race at that time – and it was removed to the newly opened museum in Auckland, to represent a world that no longer existed.


Māori war in canoe in better days

The canoe, Te Toki a Tāpiri (the Battle-axe of Tāpiri) is a survivor of days when Europeans were a small minority in the country. According to Te Ara, it was built by the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe in 1836, and passed through the ownership of several other tribes before it ended up in the hands of the government”. The museum website is a little more informative, acknowledging that the canoe was confiscated by government forces during the Waikato War in the 1860s[1]. Attempts at the time to blow it up apparently failed, and the canoe was left to slowly moulder away. In my school days the wars that were fought between various Maori tribes, the British Army and settler militias, were known as “The Māori Wars”. More recently, some have argued that it would be more appropriate to call them the Pākeha Wars, since the Pākeha (the Māori name for Europeans), were actually invading their country. These days a compromise seems to have been reached where they are referred to collectively as “The New Zealand Wars”.

Canoe and meeting house eventually found their way to the Auckland Museum, originally built to serve as a memorial to soldiers who had lost their lives in the First World War. The top floor of the building now commemorates all the wars in which New Zealanders have been involved since the country became part of the British empire in 1840.

redemption songs

Biography of Māori “rebel” leader, Te Kooti

Brief mention is given to those “New Zealand Wars”, including one particularly poignant quotation attributed to Te Ua Haumene, a Taranaki Māori converted to Christianity, in the early days of colonisation, by Methodist missionaries. With the increasing arrival of European settlers and land “purchases”, Te Ua turned to armed resistance, inspired by a visions of the archangel Gabriel who “assured Te Ua that he was chosen by God as his prophet, commanded him to cast off the yoke of the Pakeha and promised the restoration of the birthright of Israel (the Maori people) in the land of Canaan (New Zealand). This would come about after a great day of deliverance in which the unrighteous would perish.” A forlorn hope, as it turned out, but perhaps understandable in the circumstances.

The words of Te Ua displayed in the museum read: “Pākeha say, ‘Take our religion and our form of government, develop the economy and learn to read and write, and you will be citizens of the greatest empire in the world.’ We try to do all that. But when the British bring in a professional army to back up a faulty purchase of land, nothing of what we have been told appears true anymore. Pākeha seem to want to make the country theirs alone. The only thing we are expected to contribute is the land. Outnumbered, outgunned, unable to trust the law, we turn to religion.” Does that sound familiar?

The Boer War, 1899-1901, was the first where the New Zealand government sent troops to fight on foreign soil. The Auckland Museum’s display includes a quote from a local newspaper, The Waikato Argus, dated 31 January 1900. “It is the destiny of the British nation to spread good and just government over a large portion of the earth’s surface. Wherever her flag floats, equal justice [is] meted out to all . . . There is only one sentiment throughout the Empire – we must win regardless of the cost in man and treasure!”

Well, the British Empire did win, of course. According to a table on display, the British fielded 450,000 troops against the Boers 55,000. British casualties included 21,942 soldiers and 350,000 horses killed. The Boers lost 5,071 fighting men, and 27,921 civilians who died in concentration camps established to combat the guerrilla tactics of the outnumbered and outgunned Boers. In addition, 30,000 farms were burned, and 3,500,000 sheep were destroyed.


Concentration camp for Boer civilians, 2nd Boer War

What is perhaps more interesting is that The Boer War, as it is known in general British histories, was actually the second war fought between the British and the Boers. The first, a relatively brief affair in the summer of 1880-81 had resulted in a humiliating loss for destiny’s Empire. Contrary to the Waikato Argus editor’s altruistic rhetoric, Wikipedia itemises three key factors for British interest in South Africa:

  • The desire to control the trade routes to India
  • The discovery of huge deposits of gold and diamonds
  • The race against other European powers for expansion in Africa

So it goes – and that brings us to the next exhibit, and the original reason for the Museum’s construction: The First World War; known at the time as “The Great War”, and “the war to end all wars.”

I am currently reading a history of this war written by John Keegan[2], celebrated by The New York Times as “possibly the best military historian of our day”. The first sentence of Keegan’s book reads: “The First World War was a tragic and unnecessary conflict.” So it’s a little sad that military and civilian casualties totalled 41 million, of which 18 million died. The New Zealand government despatched more than 100,000 young men (from its one million people) to battlefields on the other side of the world – and more than 18,000 never returned.

Why the war?One item in the museum’s display asks the obvious question, “Why go?”, and gives two answers: “Loyalty to Britain was strong and people believed going to war was the right thing to do. The war was also a chance for a great adventure.” One returned soldier is quoted as saying, “it was a case of Duty.” A contemporary poster published in The London Times gave three further reasons: “To save [Britain’s] good name. To save her life and her Empire [and] To save the freedom of the people in all Europe”; and encouraged young men to “FIGHT then – for your life. FIGHT – for your honour. FIGHT – for freedom. FIGHT – for mankind.” So clearly propaganda played an important role.

What receives less emphasis is that not all young men were so gung-ho about participating in an Imperialist war. There were many who believed, and more who came to that belief during the conflict, that the war was being fought for economic reasons, and that the common soldier had more in common with his “enemies” on the field than with his own political and industrial leaders.

Once conscription was introduced, however, there was no option of refusing to go. In theory, conscientious objection on religious grounds was acceptable – but almost impossible in practice. Those men who did actually refuse were cruelly treated by their governments. Flogging as a means of enforcing discipline had been banned in Britain’s armed forces in 1881, but remained on the statute books until 1947, and was still used in prisons – where an uncooperative soldier could easily end up. Once in the army, desertion, cowardice or dereliction of duty were offences punishable by execution. Lack of enthusiasm for the war effort was a disease that couldn’t be allowed to spread.

Thames war memorial

240 young men who never returned to the small town of Thames

Many servicemen from New Zealand and Australia had their first taste of combat on the Gallipoli Peninsula in what is now Turkey. Few of them could have located the place on a map. I, and most of my fellow citizens grew up with the legend of Anzac, commemorated every year on 25 April, the day when the invasion landings began. According to a laconic text in the museum display, “New Zealanders fight the Ottomans at Gallipoli . . . Their first campaign is a shambolic eight-month operation that ends in stalemate and evacuation.”

Shortly after first coming to Turkey, I went with a party of Turkish students to the cemeteries of Gallipoli and the town of Çanakkale, where an event takes place every year on 18 March commemorating the Ottoman success in turning back the combined naval fleets of Britain and France. You will search hard to find reference to this in British or New Zealand histories. From an Ottoman perspective, the British naval defeat was the critical event – the “shambolic” beach invasion a bloody exercise that had little chance of success from the outset. Was the result a “stalemate”? The British strategy (conceived by Winston Churchill) had been to bring battleships in front of the Ottoman Palace, force their government’s surrender, take them out of the war and establish a supply route to Russia.  The aim was to strengthen the Russian military effort and force the Germans to fight on two fronts. In the light of that goal, the campaign must surely be seen as a failure.

That was then, this is now. The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Are we any better off in the present age of information? So help us, God!


[1] A detailed history of Te Toki a Tapiri can be found here.

[2] The First World War, John Keegan (Vintage Books, 1998)

Who are Turkey’s friends in the Arab world?

This opinion piece appeared today in our English language daily, Hürriyet Daily News:

Anti-Turkish sentiment among Saudi Arabia’s rulers has reached such a peak that they recently banned Turkish TV series. The cost of the broadcast deals for the six series is said to be around $50 million, but still the Saudi authorities removed them from their TV channels.


Friends of the USA and Israel making great strides n the road to democracy!

The way of life represented in those series must have been perceived as “too modern” for Saudi Arabia. After all, the Saudis present allowing women to drive as a “reform” and “moderation” to the world!

Anti-Turkey sentiment

The political moves are even more remarkable.

Speaking to journalists in Egypt, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman reportedly referred to Turkey, Iran and Qatar as an “axis of evil.” He also opted to lash out at “the Ottomans.”

Saudi Arabia was perhaps the key sponsor of the 2013 military coup in Egypt, transferring $5 billion to the putschists overnight after the takeover was complete. That was the same amount as the Muslim Brotherhood had [requested] from the International Monetary Fund.

The Ankara government condemned the coup in Egypt and took a stance against Egypt on every possible subsequent occasion. As a result, Egypt is today fertile ground for criticizing Turkey.

[However] By looking at all these events and incidents, we should not slip into thinking “the Arabs are our enemies.” Such a mindset would make it difficult for us to develop any healthy relationships with Arab countries.

UK saudi relations

UK PM Theresa may welcomes Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman

Contrary to popular belief, the founders of the Republic of Turkey did not turn their back on the Arabs. They did not interfere in their affairs but focused on developing good relations with them. Atatürk hosted King Abdullah*, the son of Sharif Hussein.

Both history and the present day advise us to develop equal diplomatic and economic relations without taking sides in the internal feuds of the Arabs, and without evoking any reference to the Ottomans.


  • King Abdullah’s Arab revolt against the Ottoman government in 1916 was encouraged by the British government. His struggle for Arab independence, however, turned them against him, and he was overthrown by the ibn Saud family, with British support.
  • Moral of the story: Don’t put your trust in imperialists.

Collapse of the US Empire

Some of us have been predicting this for a while. Here’s a very convincing case:

May you live in interesting times, goes the Chinese proverb. Few can doubt that we are indeed living in such an interesting time. Big changes are afoot in the world, it seems. None more so than the collapsing of the American Empire.

via US Collapse – the Spectacle of Our Time — Covert Geopolitics