America’s Turkey ambassador sent to Siberia

john-bass-780Well, not Siberia, actually, but probably the United States equivalent. John Bass, US ambassador to Ankara since 2014 looks to be shouldering the blame for failed attempts to overthrow Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Diplomacy in Afghanistan seems to be a more straightforward business than in Turkey – if talks break down you just annihilate a few troublemakers before returning to the negotiating table:

In April, the US military dropped a MOAB, affectionately known as “the mother of all bombs” on a complex of tunnels and bunkers in Achin district in Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province. “More than 90 Islamic State militants were killed when the US military dropped an 11-ton bomb on eastern Afghanistan, according to the Afghan government.”

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When you go, you’re gone – your game here is over

We wish Mr Bass all the best in his new “diplomatic” role.

Trump taps ambassador to Turkey as new top diplomat in Afghanistan

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump has nominated a key diplomat as the new US ambassador to Afghanistan.

The White House said in a statement that Trump would name John Bass, the US ambassador to Turkey, to lead diplomatic efforts in the war-torn nation. Bass has been in his current post since 2014. Prior to that he was ambassador to Georgia, also during the Obama administration. The White House said he had served at six US missions overseas.

The announcement of the nomination came as the US undertakes a review of its strategy in Afghanistan. In June, Secretary of Defense Mattis said he would deliver a new strategy around mid-July, and officials told CNN last week that the strategy review was nearing a close. The US embassy in Kabul is currently under the leadership of the chargé d’ affaires, Hugo Llorens.

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Güle güle, John.

The United States invaded Afghanistan shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, pushing the Taliban out of power and beginning what would become the nation’s longest war. Under then-President Barack Obama, the US declared an end to combat operations in Afghanistan at the end of 2014. But the Taliban and ISIS both have footholds in the country and in April, the US dropped one of its largest non-nuclear bombs on a Taliban post — the first such use of the weapon in battle.

Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have faced criticism over the pace of State Department nominations. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham took the two to task in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press” in early July, citing a lack of diplomatic leadership in Afghanistan and Pakistan as a particular cause for concern.

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PS – Interesting use of the words “in battle”. I wonder if those 90 “Islamic militants” were actually fighting at the time.

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United States opposes Kurdish referendum in Iraq – Yeah, sure!

I saw it first in our local newspaper, and I checked it out. Yep, it seems some low-ranking “spokeswoman” from the State department was given the job of lying to the world. Ignore the fact that the US used the Iraqi Kurds to get rid of Saddam Hussein – and what did they promise in return? Ignore the fact that the US is providing military hardware to Kurdish separatists in northern Syria, against the repeatedly expressed wishes of loyal NATO ally Turkey. What do they think will be the consequences of that?

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US “coalition partners” in Syria

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States “strongly opposes” the planned independence referendum by Iraqi Kurds and urges Iraqi Kurdish leaders to engage in negotiations with the Baghdad government instead, the U.S. State Department said on Wednesday.

In the most forceful U.S. statement so far opposing the referendum, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said: “The United States strongly opposes the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government’s referendum on independence, planned for September 25.”

Saudi royals holidaying in Turkey

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So why do you need 30 bicycles?

According to our local newspaper, Saudi Arabian Prince El Velid bin Tallal is currently holidaying in Bodrum with his wife and daughters. He has been spotted cycling around the streets near his hotel of accompanied by several large bodyguards.

The royals are staying in a luxury hotel in the Göltürkbükü area much loved by local glitterati and the paparazzi who make a living photographing and writing about them. Prince El Velid is not the richest guy in the world, but with a wealth estimated at $32 billion, he’s definitely up there with the big guns. He and his family and carers arrived at Bodrum Milas Airport on the royal Boeing 747where their 300 suitcases and 30 bicycles took several hours to unload.

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The prince’s private jet and holiday luggage

It seems a bay near their hotel has been closed of for their exclusive use, where they can swim, sunbathe and anchor their 87-metre yacht Kingdom KR5. In case the hotel’s facilities are not up to expected standards, the yacht apparently has a swimming pool of its own.

Who knows – maybe we’ll bump into them at our next concert.

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The Kingdom KR5