Oct 10 (1/1): Any Adults in the Room?

geoduck no quahog

Plus Assad and Iran both hate the Kurds, so Russia’s allies benefit from a Turkish invasion.

…But, as NOLA says, the NATO thing must be at the forefront of Russia’s wishlist.

Hyde Park Factor

Apologies if this has been covered (on my phone!), but isn’t this a huge F U to Trump? Did he over play his hand here?

It reads to me like he offered the jets in exchange for Turkey not attacking Syria, and then they attacked later that same day.

Bozo Texino

He looks so, so weak.

He dug himself a hole that he then desperately tried to get out of. And it still didn’t work.

8slim

He is weak and he has a long track record of being a terrible negotiator. That so many of his supporters like him because he’s “tough” is a testament to how relentless self-branding and charisma can blind tons of people.

Average Reds

The only one who looks weaker here is James Mattis.

His continued silence is pathetic.

Dan Chipowski

I’m sure he’ll find a way to blame this on Obama or Biden, like most other Trump supporters do with his actions and even his literal presidency.

Dan Chipowksi

Think he’s going to make Turkey an unsecured creditor? Because that would be some 4D chess.

barbed wire Bob

Basically but it’s a little more complicated than that. The F-35 program was originally conceived to be a multinational project where other countries would provide financial backing, help build the thing and buy it for their own air forces. Turkey joined the project in 2002 and there was a plan that a Turkish company would build the planes in Turkey under license. That plan went off the rails when Turkey announced they would buy a Russian made air defense system and the Pentagon kicked them out the of the program because “The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities.” But the Pentagon left the open the door that Turkey would be allowed back in if they didn’t buy Russian equipment. Turkey said F U and purchased the Russian air defense system. My guess is that the Turks are still irked and basically took Trump’s offer for what it was worth which was basically nothing

DefenseNews: Turkey officially kicked out of F-35 program, costing US half a billion dollars

Hyde Park Factor

Thanks for the clarification – I figured there was more “there” there.

TallerThanPedroia

Not that it should matter but Trump is of course wrong on history:

“The #Kurds DID fight on the Allied side in WW2.
They helped break the siege following the 1941 pro-Nazi Coup d’état in Iraq & were part of the (pro-Allied) Iraq Levies. By 1942 Kurds made up 25% of the force. By 1943, 10 of the 44 companies comprising the Iraq Levies were Kurdish”

dhappy42

Thanks for doing the research on that. It confirms my theory that Trump is wrong about or lies about *everything.*

phenweigh

Netanyahu tweets; Israel strongly condemns the Turkish invasion of the Kurdish areas in Syria and warns against the ethnic cleansing of the Kurds by Turkey and its proxies. Israel is prepared to extend humanitarian assistance to the gallant Kurdish people.

So many of Trump’s allies oppose him on this withdrawal, yet he continues to double down. It’s like the hurricane path to Alabama, but with dire consequences.

geoduck no quahog

MBS seems unusually quiet about this. Perhaps he’s come to the conclusion that his puppy is actually demented and there’s nothing to be done.

Any news out of the KSA?

BrazilianSoxFan

I don’t know if I am being too paranoid, but this reads like Trump tried to give secrets to Russia (Advanced capabilities of the F35) and disguised it as fulfilling campaign promises (bringing troops back) but undervalued the Turkish desire for murdering Kurds.

[REDACTED COMMENTS: PLACEHOLDER]

POLITICO: Lindsey Graham dishes on Trump in hoax calls with Russians
Graham thought he was speaking with Turkey’s minister of defense. Instead, it was a pair of Russian pranksters.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham has in the last year become something of a congressional point man for President Donald Trump’s negotiations with Turkey, leading discussions on everything from Ankara’s purchase of a Russian missile system over the summer to their more recent incursion into northern Syria.

So when he received a call from a man he thought was Turkey’s minister of defense earlier in August, it didn’t strike him as unusual. “Thank you so much for calling me, Mr. Minister,” Graham said. “I want to make this a win-win, if we can.”

But it wasn’t the Turkish defense minister at all. Instead, it was Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, Russian pranksters with suspected ties to the country’s intelligence services who go by “Lexus and Vovan.” The duo have become notorious in recent years for their cold calls to unwitting, high-profile Western politicians, including Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff, leading some to suspect that they’ve had help from the Kremlin, according to The Guardian. (A Schiff spokesman said at the time that the House Intelligence Committee “informed appropriate law enforcement and security personnel of the conversation.”)
Story Continued Below

Kevin Bishop, a spokesman for Graham, confirmed the call’s authenticity to POLITICO. “We have been successful in stopping many efforts to prank Senator Graham and the office, but this one slipped through the cracks,” he said. “They got him.”

The substance of Graham’s conversation with Stolyarov, who was posing as Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, is newly relevant in light of the South Carolina senator’s push for sanctions on Turkey as punishment for their offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria. Graham labeled the Kurds a “threat” to Turkey in the call, seemingly contradicting what he has said publicly in recent days.

Graham also mentions Trump’s personal interest in a “Turkish bank case” in the call that appears to refer to a U.S. case involving Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader and client of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Trump had asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 to help persuade the Justice Department to drop the Zarrab case.

The pranksters’ conversation with Graham, a Trump ally who has the president’s ear on national security issues, also raises obvious questions about potential security breaches. While the pranks appear on their face to have been relatively harmless, the incident suggests it’s getting easier for bad actors to elicit sensitive information from policymakers. Stolyarov provided POLITICO with a recording of their call.

“Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham told the pranksters. He was referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, a group that began fighting ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015—with support from the U.S.—but is considered a terrorist group by Turkey because of its push to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border.
“I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds,” Graham continued. “Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly.”

The pranksters managed to get Graham on the phone again a few days after the first call. In the second call, Graham says he met with Trump to discuss what the “defense minister” had told him. “We want a better relationship with Turkey. That’s exactly what he wants,” Graham said, referring to Trump and again urging Turkey to rethink the S-400 purchase.

Graham then raised an issue that’s been top of mind for Erdogan for years—the U.S. case involving Zarrab, who was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to 32 months in prison stemming partly from bribes he paid to Turkish bank officers.

“And this case involving the Turkish bank, he’s very sensitive to that,” Graham said of Trump. “The president wants to be helpful, within the limits of his power.”

According to U.S. prosecutors, Zarrab and others used the Turkish bank Halkbank to “launder billions of dollars-worth of Iranian oil proceeds, ultimately creating a slush fund for Iran to use however it wished — the very harm that U.S. sanctions were put in place to avoid.” A senior banker at Halkbank was found guilty of working to evade sanctions on Iran, and Halbank itself could still face fines by the Treasury Department.

In the hoax call, Graham suggested that the president would try to help Erdogan regarding that case as best he could. “I like President Erdogan,” Graham told the pranksters. “I think President Trump likes President Erdogan. I think he’s a strong man and we need to deal with strong people.”

Bishop, Graham’s spokesman, said in a statement that “it’s no secret Senator Graham has often traveled to Turkey and continued to speak with many members of Turkish government, including President Erdogan, about the relationship between our two countries.”

“He has been clear he wants a stronger relationship and often talked about the importance of maintaining peace in northern Syria to prevent the reemergence of ISIS,” Bishop added.

“With Turkey’s invasion into northern Syria the drive for better relations between our two countries has suffered a body blow. Turkey should immediately withdraw their military forces and America should reinstitute the safe zone concept to keep the peace in the region. Until this is done, Senator Graham will continue to push for severe, biting sanctions against Turkey.”

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