The Pronk Pops Show 1344, October 18, 2019, Story 1: Five Day Cease Fire or Pause Before Turkey Genocide of Kurds in Syrian Buffer Zone? — 200,000 Civilians Fled Zone — Massive Prison Break of Islamic State Possible as Kurds Flee — Long Range Consequences of United States Interventionist Foreign Policy: Million of Refugees and Deaths — Regime Change Roulette — Videos — Story 2: Britain Finally Has European Union Divorce Agreement But Will Parliament Approve Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal? — Videos –Story 3: Hillary Clinton Rampant Russian Delusions, Lying and Paranoia — Russia Dumped Hillary Clinton for Tulsi Gabbard As The Russian Choice For Their Candidate in 2020? — In Your Guts You Know Hillary Gone Nuts —  Videos — Story 4: Trump Dazzles Dallas — Videos

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 1344 October 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1343 October 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1342 October 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1341 October 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1340 October 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1339 October 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1338 October 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1337 October 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1336 October 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1335 October 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1334 October 4, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1333 October 3, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1332 October 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1331 October 1, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1330 September 30, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1329 September 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1328 September 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1327 September 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1326 September 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1325 September 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1324 September 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1323 September 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1322 September 18 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1321 September 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1320 September 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1319 September 13, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1318 September 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1317 September 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1316 September 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1315 September 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1314 September 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1313 August 28, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1312 August 27, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1311 August 26, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1310 August 21, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1309 August 20, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1308 August 19, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1307 August 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1306 August 14, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1305 August 12, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1304 August 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1303 August 7, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1302 August 6, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1301 August 5, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1299 July 31, 2019

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Pronk Pops Show 1296 July 25, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1295 July 24, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1294 July 23, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1293 July 22, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1292 July 18, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1291 July 17, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1290 July 16, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1289 July 15, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1288 July 11, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1287 July 10, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1286 July 9, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1285 July 8, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1284 July 2, 2019

Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019

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Story 1: FIve Day Cease Fire or Pause Before Turkey Genocide of Kurds in Syrian Buffer Zone? — 200,000 Civilians Fled Zone — Massive Prison Break of Islamic State Possible as Kurds Flee — Long Range Consequences of United States Interventionist Foreign Policy: Million of Refugees and Deaths — Regime Change Roulette — Videos —

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Syria, Turkey, Kurds, ISIS & Trump & Putin, and how the Middle East unravelled in murderous chaos

Turkey in northern Syria explained

The US, Daesh and the PKK: Explaining Turkey’s operation in Syria

Turkey backed Syrian forces move into Tal Abyad

Turkish, Kurdish forces accuse each other of violating cease-fire

How the Kurds became a key player in Syria’s war

The PKK explained

The PKK-YPG connection

The Kurds

The Kurds: The Most Famous Unknown People in the World | Stephen Mansfield | TEDxNashville

Turkish and Kurdish forces clash despite ceasefire

Syria: Kurds’ fury as Trump orders US troop withdrawal

War in Syria: Can the Kurdish forces fight back?

Turkey invades Syria: Who are the players and what do they want? | DW News

What’s next for the Kurds? | ITV News

Why the world is worried about Turkey

PBS NewsHour West live show October 18, 2019

Top U.S. & World Headlines — October 18, 2019

Bashar al-Assad: ‘Turkey will pay a heavy price’ for Syrian involvement

Al-Assad’s troops enter northern towns to confront offensive

Assad forces are moving into towns and villages once held by the Kurds | ITV News

Race to the border: Syrian Kurds call in Assad against Turkey offensive

An Interview with PKK Leader Abdullah Öcalan

The war against Assad in Syria

Civil war in Syria has already claimed the lives of more than 60.000 people. The prospect that there will soon be an end to the murdering is bad. “Assad listens to no one”, suggests Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov when describing his experiences with the Syrian president. The former UN negotiator Kofi Annan, who attempted to mediate between the fronts for several months, always had the feeling that “Assad will not accept reality”. At the same time, Annan makes the USA and the Syrian opposition jointly responsible for the disaster: “Those calling for Assad to resign as a precondition for talks make negotiations impossible”. In an exclusive interview, Syria’s President, Bashar al Assad, defended attacks by his air force on rebels in Syrian cities, which also massively effect his own people, said: “We have to defend ourselves as the tactics of the enemy force us to”. In the same interview, which was recorded at the end of 2012 for this documentary,

Assad also made “foreign terrorists responsible for the situation in his country”. In his documentary, Grimme award winner Hubert Seipel analyses the dangerous situation in Syria. Apart from his meeting with Assad, he conducted exclusive interviews with Kofi Annan and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Seipel illuminated a conflict in which not only Kalashnikovs and missiles, but also the Internet plays the central role in public opinion. “False information and psychological warfare make up a very large part of the Syrian Civil War. It is significantly worse than in previous wars that I had ever been involved in”, added Kofi Annan, describing the massive disinformation. Whoever has control of the images of war, has the power to influence political decisions. Massacre marketing is a powerful weapon.

Frontline – The Battle for Syria

2012 documentary on the Syrian Civil War by Frontline

The Boy who started the Syrian War | Featured Documentary

The Cost of the Syrian War

Syria’s child refugees: ‘You feel that they have lost their hearts

Syrians Return Home After Humiliating Refugee-Life in Europe | The Quint

The Ingraham Angle 10/18/19 | Fox Breaking News Laura Ingraham October 18, 2019

Rand Paul Discusses Withdrawal of U.S. Troops from Syria | The View

Neoconservatives vs. America: A Critique of U.S. Foreign Policy Since 9/11

Ron Paul: Americans Are Forced to Pay for U.S. Government’s Interventionist Foreign Policy

Ron Paul’s 2003 House speech about the danger of neoconservatism

 

Kurdistan Workers’ Party

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Kurdistan Workers’ Party
Partiya Karkerên Kurdistanê (PKK)
Leader Cemîl Bayik and Besê Hozat [tr]
Founded 1978; 41 years ago
Headquarters Qandil Mountains
Paramilitary wing People’s Defence Forces(HPG)
Free Women’s Units (YJA-STAR)
Ideology Kurdish nationalism[1]
Communalism
Democratic confederalism[2]
Libertarian socialism[3]
Jineology
Anti-capitalism
National affiliation Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement (HBDH)
International affiliation Kurdistan Communities Union(KCK)
Website
www.pkkonline.org
People’s Defence Forces
Hêzên Parastina Gel (HPG)
Leader(s)
Foundation 1984[8]
Dates of operation 1984–present
Motives Cultural & political rights for the Kurdish population in Turkey.[9]
Active region(s) Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran
Ideology Libertarian socialism
Democratic confederalism
Communalism[10]
Notable attacks 1984 PKK attacks
May 24, 1993 PKK ambush
2011 Hakkâri attack
Status Ongoing war with Turkey, after ceasefire ended.[11][12]
Size Over 32,800 active fighters (2015 Turkish claim)[13]
Website www.hezenparastin.com
Free Women’s Units
Yekîneyên Jinên Azad ên Star (YJA-STAR)
Foundation 2004
Dates of operation 2004–present[14]
Active region(s) Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran
Ideology Libertarian socialism
Democratic confederalism
Socialism
Communalism[10]
Status Ongoing war with Turkey, after ceasefire ended.[11][12][15]
Website www.yja-star.com/ku/

The Kurdistan Workers’ Party or PKK (KurdishPartiya Karkerên Kurdistanê‎, TurkishKürdistan İşçi Partisi [a]) is a Kurdish militant and political organization based in Turkey and Iraq, broadly considered as a terrorist group. Since 1984 the PKK has been involved in an armed conflict with the Turkish state (with cease-fires in 1999–2004 and 2013–2015), with the initial aim of achieving an independent Kurdish state. The PKK has in March 2016 vowed to overthrow the Turkish “fascist AKP” government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, through the ‘Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement‘.[16] For different reasons, the PKK has been designated as “terrorist” organization by Turkey,[17] the United States, the European Union, and Japan.[18]

The PKK was founded in 1978 in the village of Fis (near Lice) by a group of Kurdish students led by Abdullah Öcalan[19] and 1979 it made its existence known to the public.[20] The PKK’s ideology was originally a fusion of revolutionary socialism and Kurdish nationalism, seeking the foundation of an independent Communist state in the region, which was to be known as Kurdistan. The initial reasons given by the PKK for this were the oppression of Kurds in Turkey and capitalism.[21][22] By then, the use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned in Kurdish-inhabited areas.[23] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan“, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[failed verification][24] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[25] Many who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed.[26] The PKK was then formed, as part of a growing discontent over the suppression of Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, in an effort to establish linguistic, cultural, and political rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish minority.[27]

Since the PKK’s foundation, it has been involved in armed clashes with Turkish security forces. The full-scale insurgency, however, did not begin until 15 August 1984, when the PKK announced a Kurdish uprising. Since the conflict began, more than 40,000 have died, most of whom were Kurdish civilians through Turkish military actions.[28]

In 1999, PKK leader Öcalan was captured and imprisoned.[29] In May 2007, former members of the PKK helped form the Kurdistan Communities Union (KCK), an umbrella organisation of Kurds from Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria. In 2013, the PKK declared a ceasefire agreement and began slowly withdrawing its fighters to the Kurdistan Region of northern Iraq as part of the solution process between the Turkish state and the Kurdish minority.

Since July 2015, when the ceasefire broke down,[30] violent actions inside Turkey from the government against the PKK and vice versa kept occurring, supplemented with Turkish military action in 2018 against PKK fighters in Iraq, and both in January 2018 and October 2019 against Kurdish political groups (PYD) and forces (YPG and YPJ) in Syria which according to Turkey and some observers[31] are strongly tied to the PKK (see ‘clashing’ details in: Kurdish–Turkish conflict (1978–present)#2015–present).

Contents

History

PKK supporters at 2003 march opposing the Iraq War, London

In the early 1970s, the organization’s core group was made up largely of students led by Abdullah Öcalan (“Apo“) in Ankara. By then, the use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned in Kurdish-inhabited areas.[23] In an attempt to deny their existence, the Turkish government categorized Kurds as “Mountain Turks” until 1991.[23][32][33][34] The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan“, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.[24] Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life.[25] Many who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.[26] The PKK was then formed, as part of a growing discontent over the suppression of Turkey’s ethnic Kurds, in an effort to establish linguistic, cultural, and political rights for Turkey’s ethnic Kurdish minority.[27] The group focused to the large oppressed Kurdish population in south-east Turkey. A meeting on 25 November 1978, in a tea house near Diyarbakır is considered the founding meeting.[35] On 27 November 1978, the group adopted the name Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Espousing a Marxist ideology, the group took part in violent conflicts with right-wing entities as a part of the political chaos in Turkey at the time. The group tried to assassinate the Kurdish tribal leader Mehmet Celal Bucak in 1979. According to the PKK sources, he was exploiting the peasants, and collaborated with Turkey in oppressing the Kurds. It is believed that this marked a period of intense urban warfare among other political elements.

Turkish sources claimed that the 1980 Turkish coup d’état pushed the organization to another stage, with members being executed, doing jail time, being subject to capital punishment, or fleeing to Syria. On 10 November 1980, it was claimed that the PKK bombed the Turkish Consulate in Strasbourg, France in a joint operation with the Armenian radical group ASALA, which they claimed as the beginning of a “fruitful collaboration.”[36] The PKK didn’t take responsibility despite a numerous of accusations.

Starting in 1984, the PKK transformed into a paramilitary group, using training camps in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and France. At the same time, some of its members started to get training by the members of the Palestine Liberation Organization who themselves were trained by Soviet personnel in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley in Syrian-controlled camps. According to the U. S. government reports, the PKK received significant support by Syria, which allowed it to maintain headquarters in Damascus, as well as by Iran, Iraq, and Libya. It later began to launch attacks and bombings against Turkish governmental installations, the military, and various institutions of the state. The organization focused on attacks against Turkish military targets in Turkey, although civilian targets were also hit. The group started to gain publicity after committing political killings and massacres.[37][38][39][40]

From the mid-1990s, the organization began to lose the upper hand in its operations as a consequence of a change of tactics by Turkey and Syria’s steady abandonment of support for the group. The group also had lost its support from Saddam Hussein.[41] At the same time, the government started to use more violent methods to counter Kurdish militants. From 1996 to 1999, the organization began to use suicide bombers, VBIED and ambush attacks against military and police bases. The role of suicide bombers, especially female ones were encouraged and mythologised by giving them the status of a “goddess of freedom”, and shown as role models for other women after their death. On 30 July 1996, Zeynep Kınacı, a female PKK fighter, carried out the organization’s first suicide attack, killing 8 soldiers and injuring 29 others. The attacks against the civilians, especially the Kurdish citizens who refused to cooperate with them were also reported at the same years. On 20 January 1999, a report published by HRW, stated that the PKK was believed to have been responsible for more than 768 executions. The organization had also reportedly committed 25 massacres, killing more than 300 people. More than hundred victims were children and women.[42][42][43][44][45]

The Kurdish–Turkish conflict was in its peak in the 1990s until the leader of the organization, Abdullah Öcalan, was captured, prosecuted and sentenced to death, but this was later commuted to life imprisonment as part of the government’s seeking European Union membership.[46] In the late 1990s, Turkey increased the pressure and the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria ended open Syrian support.[47][48]

The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for human rights abuses during the conflict.[49][50] Some judgements are related to executions of Kurdish civilians,[51] torturing,[52] forced displacements,[53]destroyed villages,[54][55][56] arbitrary arrests,[57] murdered and disappeared Kurdish journalists, activists and politicians.[58][59][60] As a result of increasing Kurdish population and activism, the Turkish parliament began a controlled process of dismantling some anti-Kurdish legislation, using the term “normalization” or “rapprochement,” depending on the sides of the issue. It partially relaxed the bans on broadcasting and publishing in the Kurdish language, although significant barriers remain.[61] At the same time, the PKK was blacklisted in many countries. On 2 April 2004, the Council of the European Union added the PKK to its list of terrorist organizations. Later that year, the US Treasury moved to freeze assets of branches of the organization. The PKK went through a series of changes, and in 2003 it ended the unilateral truce declared when Öcalan was captured.[62]

On 20 March 2016, the PKK announced the establishment of Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement, a coalition of MaoistsMarxists-Leninists, Apoists, Communists and Hoxhaistswhich aim to attain “democracy and a free future” for “peoples against Imperialism, Capitalism, Chauvinism, Fascism and Racism”, by working towards the overthrow of the ruling AKP government, who they deem collaborative fascist.[63]

Ideology, aims

The organization originated in the 1970s from the radical left and drew its membership from other existing leftist groups, mainly Dev-Genç.[64]:127 During the 1980s, the movement included and cooperated with other ethnic groups, including ethnic Turks, who were following the radical left.[64]:127[64]:129 The organization initially presented itself as part of the worldwide communist revolution. Its aims and objectives have evolved over time towards the goal of national autonomy,[65] and democratic confederalism.[66][67][68]

Around 1995, the PKK ostensibly changed its aim from independence to a demand for equal rights and Kurdish autonomy within the Turkish state,[69][70][71] though all the while hardly suspending their military attacks on the Turkish state except for ceasefires in 1999–2004 and 2013–2015. In 1995, Öcalan said: “We are not insisting on a separate state under any condition. What we are calling for very openly is a state model where a people’s basic economic, cultural, social, and political rights are guaranteed”.[70]

Whilst this shift in the mid-nineties has been interpreted as one from a call for independence to an autonomous republic,[72] some scholars have concluded that the PKK still maintains independence as the ultimate goal, but through society-building rather than state-building.[73][74]

Nevertheless, the PKK has in March 2016 also vowed to overthrow the Turkish government of Erdoğan, through the ‘Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement‘.[75]

The organization has adapted the new Democratic confederalist views of its arrested leader, which aim to replace the United NationsCapitalism and Nation State with the Democratic Federalism which is described as a “system of popularly elected administrative councils, allowing local communities to exercise autonomous control over their assets, while linking to other communities via a network of confederal councils.[76]

Followers of Öcalan and members of the PKK are known, after his diminutive name, as Apocu (Apo-ites) under his movement, Apoculuk (Apoism).[77]

Organization

The PKK has multiple heads in various countries, such as Iraq, Iran, Syria, Russia and West European countries.[78] However, Abdullah Öcalan was the unchallenged leader of the organization. After the capture of Öcalan, authorities induced him to publicly plead for a ceasefire.[79] Though serving life imprisonment, Öcalan is still considered the honorary leader and figurehead of the organization.[80]

Murat Karayılan led the organization from 1999 to 2013. In 2013 Cemil Bayik and Besê Hozat assumed as the first joint leadership.[81] Cemil Bayik, beside Abdullah Öcalan, Kesire Yildirim Öcalan and Haki Karer was one of the core leaders. The organization appointed “Doctor Bahoz,” the nom de guerre of Fehman Huseyin, a Syrian Kurd, in charge of the movement’s military operations signifying the long-standing solidarity among Kurds from all parts of Kurdistan.[82]

Wings[

Umbrella organization

In 1985, the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (KurdishEniye Rizgariye Navata Kurdistan‎, ERNK) was established by the PKK as its popular front wing, with the role of both creating propaganda for the party, and as an umbrella organization for PKK organizations in different segments of the Kurdish population, such as the peasantry, workers, youth, and women. It was dissolved in 1999, after the capture of Abdullah Öcalan.[83][84]

Armed wing

The PKK has an armed wing, originally formed in 1984 as the Kurdistan Freedom Brigades (KurdishHazen Rizgariya Kurdistan‎, HRK),[85] renamed to the People’s Liberation Army of Kurdistan (KurdishArteshen Rizgariya Gelli Kurdistan‎, ARGK) in 1986,[83] and again renamed to the People’s Defense Forces (KurdishHêzên Parastina Gel‎, HPG) in 1999.[86]

Women’s armed wing

The Free Women’s Units of Star (KurdishYekîneyên Jinên Azad ên Star‎,[87] YJA-STAR) was established in 2004 as the women’s armed wing of the PKK, emphasizing the issue of women’s liberation.[14]

Training camps

The first training camps were established in 1982 in Turkey, Iraq, Syria, Iran and also in Beqaa Valley with the support of the Syrian government.[88][89] After the Iran-Iraq war and the Kurdish civil war, the PKK moved all its camps to Northern Iraq in 1998. The PKK had also completely moved to Qandil Mountains from Beqaa Valley, under intensive pressure, after Syria expelled Öcalan and shut down all camps established in the region.[89] At the time, Northern Iraq was experiencing a vacuum of control after the Gulf War-related Operation Provide Comfort. Instead of a single training camp which could be easily destroyed, the organization created many small camps. During this period the organization set up a fully functioning enclave with training camps, storage facilities, and reconnaissance and communications centers.

In 2007, the organization was believed to have camps strung out through the mountains that straddle the border between Turkey and Iraq, including in Sinaht, Haftanin, Kanimasi and Zap.[90] The organization developed two types of camps. The mountain camps, located in Turkey, Iraq and Iran, are used as forward bases from which militants carry out attacks against Turkish military bases. The units deployed there are highly mobile and the camps have only minimal infrastructure.[90] The other permanent camps, in the Qandil Mountains of Iraq, have more developed infrastructure—including a field hospital, electricity generators and a large proportion of the PKK’s lethal and non-lethal supplies.[90] The organization is also using the Qandil mountain camps for its political activities.

It was claimed in 2004 that there was another political training camp in Belgium, evidence that the organization had used training camps in Europe for political and ideological training.[91]

Political representation

The organization had sympathizer parties in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey beginning in the early 1990s. The establishment of direct links to the organization has been a question. In sequence HEP/DEP/HADEP/DEHAP/DTP and the BDP, which later changed its name to Democratic Regions Party (DBP) on 11 July 2014,[92] as well as the HDP have been accused of sympathizing with the PKK, since they have refused to brand it as a terrorist group.

Political organizations established in Turkey are banned from propagating or supporting separatism. Several political parties supporting Kurdish rights have been allegedly banned on this pretext. The constitutional court claimed to find direct links between the HEP/DEP/HADEP and the PKK. In 2008 the DTP-party was prosecuted by the constitutional court. It is reported that Turkey has used the PKK as an excuse to close Kurdish political parties.

Turkish-Kurdish politician and conspiracist Abdülmelik Fırat had claimed the Democratic Society Party (DTP) was founded by the PKK, and that 80 percent of Kurds do not vote for this party.[93] Senior DTP leaders maintain that they support a unified Turkey within a democratic framework. Aysel Tuğluk published an article in Radikal in May 2007 as the co-president of DTP, to prove that claim.[94]

Several parliamentarians and other elected representatives have been jailed for speaking in Kurdish, carrying Kurdish colors or otherwise allegedly “promoting separatism”, most famous among them being Leyla Zana.[95] The European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for arresting and executing Kurdish writers, journalists and politicians in numerous occasions. Between 1990 and 2006 Turkey was condemned to pay 33 million euros in damages in 567 cases. The majority of the cases were related to events that took place in southeastern Anatolia[96] Politicians of the HDP are often accused and prosecuted for being members of the PKK.[97] In Iraq the political party Tevgera Azadî is said to have close to the PKK.[98]

Alleged links with Turkish intelligence

During the controversial Ergenekon trials in Turkey, allegations have been made that the PKK is linked to elements of the Turkish intelligence community.

Şamil Tayyar, author and member of the ruling AK Party, claimed that Öcalan was released in 1972 after just three months’ detention on the initiative of the National Intelligence Organization (Millî İstihbarat Teşkilatı, MİT), and that his 1979 escape to Syria was aided by elements in MİT.[99] Öcalan has admitted making use of money given by the MIT to the PKK, which he says was provided as part of MIT efforts to control him.[100]

Former police special forces member Ayhan Çarkın alleged that the state, using the clandestine Ergenekon network, colluded with militant groups such as the PKK, Dev-Sol and Turkish Hezbollah, with the goal of profiting from the war.[101]

A witness to the trials testified that General Levent Ersöz, former head of JITEM, had frequent contact with PKK commander Cemîl Bayik.[102]

According to official figures, it was claimed that nearly 2000 PKK members became itirafçı (“confessors”) after their arrest. Some were persuaded or coerced to play an active role in the conflict, particularly under the direction of the Turkish Gendarmerie‘s unofficial JİTEMunit.[citation needed]

Activities

During its establishment in the mid-1970s, amid violent clashes country-wide, the organization used classic violent methods, such as the alleged failed assassination of Mehmet Celal Bucak as a propaganda-of-the-deed.[64] After the 1980 military coup, the organization developed into a paramilitary organization using resources it acquired in Syria, Russia, Europe and Beqaa Valley in part of ex-Syrian-controlled Lebanon. After 1984, PKK began also to use the Maoist theory of people’s war.[103][104]

The PKK has faced condemnation by some countries for executing civilians, using suicide bombers,[105][106] Child Soldiers[107] and involvement in drug trafficking.[108]

Political activity 1978–1984

In the first phase (1978–1984), the PKK tried to gain the support of the Kurdish population. It attacked the machinery of government and distributed propaganda in the region. PKK tactics were based on ambushsabotage, riots, protests, and demonstrations against the Turkish government. During these years, the PKK also fought a turf war against other radical Islamist Kurdish and Turkish organisations in Turkey. Turkish newspapers claimed that the PKK effectively used the prison force to gain appeal among the population which PKK has denied.[109][110] In the whole Turkey, this period was characterized by violent clashes which culminated in the 1980 military coup.

During this time, the organization argued that its violent actions against the government forces were explained by the need to defend Kurds in the context of what it considered as the massive cultural suppression of Kurdish identity (including the 1983 Turkish Language Act Ban) and cultural rights carried out by other governments of the region.[111] Turkey also used violent and oppressive methods against its Kurdish citizens to stop them supporting the PKK.

Armed rebellion 1984–1999

In the second phase (1984–1999), which followed the return of civilian rule in 1983, escalating attacks were made on the government’s military and vital institutions all over the country. The objective was to destabilize the Turkish authority through a long, low-intensity confrontation. In addition to skirmishing with Turkish military and police forces and local village guards, the PKK has conducted bomb attacks on government and police installations.[112] Kidnapping and assassination against government and military officials and Kurdish tribal leaders who were named as puppets of the state were performed as well. Widespread sabotages were continued from the first stage. Turkish sources had also claimed that the PKK carried out kidnappings of tourists, primarily in Istanbul, but also at different resorts. However, the PKK had in its history arrested 4 tourists and released them all after warning them to not enter the war zone. The vast majority of PKK’s actions have taken place mainly in Turkey against the Turkish military, although it has on occasions co-operated with other Kurdish nationalist paramilitary groups in neighboring states, such as Iraq and Iran.[113] The PKK has also attacked Turkish diplomatic and commercial facilities across Western Europe in the late 1980s. In effect, the Turkish state has led a series of counter-insurgency operations against the PKK, accompanied by political measures, starting with an explicit denunciation of separatism in the 1982 Constitution, and including proclamation of the state of emergency in various PKK-controlled territories starting in 1983 (when the military relinquished political control to the civilians). This series of administrative reforms against terrorism included in 1985 the creation of village guard system by the then prime minister Turgut Özal. Öcalan, in presence of PUK leader Jalal Talabani declared a unilateral cease fire in 1993, and said the PKK did not want to separate from Turkey, but Turkey did not respond to it.[114] Turkey was involved in serious human rights violations during the 1990s. The ECHR has condemned Turkey for executions of Kurdish civilians, torturing, forced displacements and massive arrests.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, in an effort to win increased support from the Kurdish peasantry, the PKK altered its leftist secular ideology to better accommodate and accept Islamic beliefs. The group also abandoned its previous strategy of attacking Kurdish and Turkish civilians who were against them, focusing instead on government and military targets.[115] In its campaign, the organization has been accused of carrying out atrocities against both Turkish and Kurdish civilians and its actions have been criticised by human rights groups such as Amnesty International[116] and Human Rights Watch[117][citation needed]. Similar actions of the Turkish state have also been criticized by these same groups.

Cease fire 1999–2004

The third phase (1999–2012), after the capture of Öcalan, PKK reorganized itself and new leaders were chosen by its members. The PKK wasn’t active between 2000 and 2003. The organization made radical changes to survive, such as changing its ideology and setting new goals. At the same time, the PKK continued to recruit new members and sustain its fighting force.

According to Turkish sources, in April 2002 at its 8th Party Congress, the PKK changed its name to the Kurdistan Freedom and Democracy Congress (KADEK) and proclaimed a commitment to nonviolent activities in support of Kurdish rights. A PKK/KADEK spokesman stated that its armed wing, The People’s Defense Force, would not disband or surrender its weapons for reasons of self-defense. This statement by the PKK/KADEK avowing it would not lay down its arms underscores that the organization maintained its capability to carry out armed operations. PKK/KADEK established a new ruling council in April, its membership virtually identical to the PKK’s Presidential Council. The PKK/KADEK did not conduct an armed attack in 2002; however, the group periodically issued veiled threats that it will resume violence if the conditions of its imprisoned leader are not improved and its forces are attacked by Turkish military, and it continued its military training like before.

In November 2003, another congress was held which lead to renaming itself as the People’s Congress of Kurdistan or Kongra-Gel (KGK). The stated purpose of the organizational change was to leave behind nationalistic and state-building goals, in favor of creating a political structure to work within the existing nation-states.[118] Through further internal conflict during this period, it is claimed that 1500 militants left the organization,[118] along with many of the leading reformists, including Nizamettin Taş and Abdullah Öcalan‘s younger brother Osman Öcalan[119]

Second insurgency 2004–2012

Kongra-Gel called off the cease-fire at the start of June 2004, saying Turkish security forces had refused to respect the truce. Turkish security forces were increasingly involved in clashes with Kurdish separatist fighters. Ankara claimed that about 2,000 Kurdish fighters had crossed into Turkey from hideouts in mountainous northern Iraq in early June 2004.

While the fight against the Turkish security forces between 2004 and 2010 continued, the PKK and its ancillary organizations continued to enjoy substantial support among the Kurds of Turkey. In 2005, the original name of the organization PKK was restored, while the Kongra-Gel became the legislature of the Koma Komalên Kurdistan.[120][121] Turkey’s struggle against the Kongra-Gel/PKK was marked by increased clashes across Turkey in 2005. In the Southeast, Turkish security forces were active in the struggle against the Kongra-Gel/PKK. There were bombings and attempted bombings in resort areas in western Turkey and Istanbul, some of which resulted in civilian casualties. A radical Kurdish separatist group calling itself the Kurdish Freedom Hawks (TAK) claimed responsibility for many of these attacks. The TAK is a rival to PKK that since 2006 repeatedly damaged the PKK’s efforts to negotiate cease-fires and unlike the PKK, is seeking to establish independent Kurdistan.[122] In 2006 alone, the PKK claimed over 500 victims. In October 2006, the PKK allegedly declared a unilateral cease-fire that slowed the intensity and pace of its attacks, but attacks continued in response to Turkish security forces significant counterinsurgency operations, especially in the southeast. On 21 October 2011 Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi announced Iran would co-operate with Turkey in some military operations against the PKK.[123]

2012 was the most violent year in the armed conflict between the Turkish State and PKK since 1999. At least 541 individuals lost their lives as a result of the clashes including 316 militants and 282 soldiers. In contrast, 152 individuals lost their lives in 2009 until the Turkish government initiated negotiations with the PKK leadership.[124] The failure of this negotiations contributed to violence that were particularly intensified in 2012. The PKK encouraged by the rising power of the Syrian Kurds increased its attacks in the same year.

During the Syrian Civil War, the Kurds in Syria have established control over their own region with the help of the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party as well as with support from the Kurdistan Regional Government in Erbil, under President Masoud Barzani.[125]

2013–15 Peace process

Demonstration in Paris for slain PKK workers

In late 2012, the Turkish government began secret talks with Öcalan for a ceasefire.[126] To facilitate talks, government officials transmitted letters between Öcalan in jail to PKK leaders in northern Iraq.[127] On 21 March 2013, a ceasefire was announced.[128] On 25 April, it was announced that the PKK would leave Turkey. Commander Murat Karayılan remarked “As part of ongoing preparations, the withdrawal will begin on May 8, 2013. Our forces will use their right to retaliate in the event of an attack, operation or bombing against our withdrawing guerrilla forces and the withdrawal will immediately stop.”[129] The semi-autonomous Kurdish region of Iraq welcomed the idea of refugees from its northern neighbor.[130] The BDP held meetings across the region to explain the pending withdrawal to concerned citizens. “The 8th of May is a day we both anticipate and fear,” explained party leader Pinar Yilmaz. “We don’t trust the government at all. Many people here are afraid that once the guerrillas are gone, the Turkish military will crack down on us again.”[128]

The withdrawal began as planned with groups of fighters crossing the border from southeastern Turkey to northern Iraq.[126] Iraqi leadership in Baghdad, however, declared that it would not accept armed groups into its territory. “The Iraqi government welcomes any political and peaceful settlement”, read an official statement. “[But] it does not accept the entry of armed groups to its territories that can be used to harm Iraq’s security and stability.”[130] The prospect of armed Kurdish forces in northern Iraq threatens to increase tensions between the region and Baghdad who are already at odds over certain oil producing territory. PKK spokesman Ahmet Deniz sought to ease concerns stating the plan would boost democracy. “The [peace] process is not aimed against anyone,” he said “and there is no need for concerns that the struggle will take on another format and pose a threat to others.”[130]

It is estimated that between 1,500 and 2,000 PKK fighters resided in Turkey at the time.[citation needed] The withdrawal process was expected to take several months even if Iraq does not intervene to try to stop it.[130] On 14 May 2013, the first groups of 13 male and female fighters entered Iraq’s Heror area near the Metina mountain after leaving Turkey. They carried with them Kalashnikov assault rifles, light machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers before a welcoming ceremony.[131]

Kurdish PKK guerilla, 23 March 2014

On 29 July 2013, the PKK issued an ultimatum in saying that the peace deal would fail if reforms were not begun to be implemented within a month.[132] In October, Cemil Bayik warned that unless Turkey resumed the peace process, the PKK would resume operations to defend itself against it. He also accused Turkey of waging a proxy war against Kurds during the Syrian Civil War by supporting other extremist rebels who were fighting them.[133]

Iraqi Kurdistan President Masoud Barzani backed the initiative saying, alongside Erdogan: “This is a historic visit for me … We all know it would have been impossible to speak here 15 or 20 years ago. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has taken a very brave step towards peace. I want my Kurdish and Turkish brothers to support the peace process.”[134]

2014 action against Islamic State and renewed tensions in Turkey

The PKK engaged the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) forces in Syria in mid-July 2014[135] as part of the Syrian Civil War. In August the PKK engaged IS in Northern Iraq and pressured the Government of Turkey to take a stand against IS.[136][137] PKK forces helped tens of thousands of Yazidis escape an encircled Mount Sinjar.[138] In September 2014, during the Siege of Kobanî, the PKK, receiving direct U.S. military support,[139] engaged with Islamic State forces in Syria who were attacking Kurdish city Kobane, which resulted in conflicts with Turks on the border and an end to a cease-fire that had been in place over a year.[140] The PKK accused Turkey of supporting ISIS. The PKK participated in many offensives against ISIS in Iraq and Syria.[141]

A number of Turkish Kurds rallied in large-scale street protests, demanding that the government in Ankara take more forceful action to combat IS and to enable Kurdish militants already engaged against IS to more freely move and resupply. These protests included a PKK call for its supporters to turn out.[142] Clashes between police and protesters killed at least 31 people. The Turkish government continued to restrict PKK-associated fighters’ movement across its borders, arresting 260 People’s Protection Units fighters who were moving back into Turkey. On 14 October, Turkish Air Force fighter-bombers attacked PKK positions in the vicinity of Daglica, Hakkari Province.[143]

Turkish military statements claimed that the bombings were in response to PKK attacks on a Turkish military outpost in the area. The Firat news agency, which Al Jazeera describes as “close to the PKK”, claimed that Turkish forces had been shelling the PKK positions for days beforehand and that the PKK action had itself been retaliation for those artillery strikes.[144] The PKK had already reported several Turkish attacks against their troops months before Turkish bombing started.

Percentage of the popular vote won by the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the 2015 Turkish general election. “The HDP’s elections results, which are a proxy indicator of popular support for the PKK, show that the group has followers throughout the country.”[145]

July 2015–present: Renewed insurgency

PKK and Peshmerga fighters, 11 August 2015

PKK Sniper

In the months before the parliamentary election of 2015, as the “Kurdish-focused” HDP’s likelihood of crossing the 10% threshold for entry into the government seemed more likely, Erdogan gave speeches and made comments that repudiated the settlement process and the existence of a Kurdish problem and refusing to recognize the HDP as having any role to play despite their long participation as intermediaries.[146] These announcements increased distrust of the government’s good faith among Kurdish leaders. In July 2015, Turkey finally became involved in the war against ISIL. While they were doing so, they decided to bomb PKK targets in Iraq.[147] The bombings came a few days after PKK was suspected of assassinating two Turkish police officers in CeylanpınarŞanlıurfa, accused by the PKK of having links with ISIS after the 2015 Suruç bombing.[148][149] The PKK has blamed Turkey for breaking the truce by bombing the PKK in 2014 and 2015 continuously.

In August 2015, the PKK announced that they would accept another ceasefire with Turkey only under US guarantees.[150] PKK announced a one-sided ceasefire in October 2015 near election time, but the government refused.[citation needed] The leadership of Iraqi Kurdistan has condemned the Turkish air strikes in its autonomous region in the north of Iraq.[151]

The number of casualties since 23 July was claimed by Turkish government to be 150 Turkish officers and over 2,000 Kurdish rebels killed (by September).[152] In December 2015, Turkish military operation in southeastern Turkey has killed hundreds of civilians, displaced hundreds of thousands and caused massive destruction in residential areas.[153][154]

In March 2016, the PKK helped to launch the Peoples’ United Revolutionary Movement with nine other Kurdish and Turkish revolutionary leftist, socialist and communist groups (including the TKP/MLTHKP-C/MLSPBMKPTKEP/LTİKB [defrtrzh]DKPDK and MLKP) with the aim of overthrowing the Turkish government of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.[63]

Tactics

The areas in which the group operates are generally mountainous rural areas and dense urban areas. The mountainous terrain offers an advantage to members of the PKK by allowing them to hide in a network of caves.[citation needed]

Recruiting[

PKK female fighters

Since its foundation, the PKK has recruited new fighters mainly from Turkey, but also from Syria, Iraq, Iran, and Western countries using various recruitment methods, such as using nationalist propaganda and its gender equality ideology. At its establishment, it included a small number of female fighters but over time, however, the number increased significantly and by the early 1990s, 30 percent of its 17,000 armed fighting forces were women.[155] In much of rural Turkey, where male-dominated tribal structures, and conservative Muslim norms were commonplace, the organization increased its number of members through the recruitment of women from different social structures and environments, also from families that migrated to several European countries after 1960 as guest workers.[155] It was reported by a Turkish university that 88% of the subjects initially believed that equality was a key objective, and that they joined the organization based on this claim.[156] In 2007, approximately 1,100 of 4,500–5,000 total members were women.[155]

In its early stages, the PKK recruited young women by kidnapping them. This forced families whose children were already a member of the organization to cooperate and thus turning them into accomplices, which increased the number of women joining the group, according to the publication, published by the Jamestown Foundation.[155][157][158]

The organization is also actively recruiting child soldiers and it has been accused of abducting more than 2,000 children by Turkish Security Forces. The independent reports by the Human Rights Watch (HRW), the United Nations(UN) and the Amnesty International have confirmed the recruitment and use of child soldiers by the organization and its armed wings since the 1990s.[107][159][160][161]

According to the TEPAV think-tank which did research on the identities of 1,362 PKK fighters who lost their lives between 2001 and 2011, 42% of the recruits were under 18, with over a quarter of these being under 15 years of age at the time of recruiting. The organization is also believed to have used the children in the drug trade.[162]

On 22 December 2016, a report published by Human Rights Watch (HRW) stated that the HPG, the armed wing of the PKK, and the YBS, a Yazidi militia affiliated with the PKK, had actively recruited child soldiers since the 2015. The report stated that more than 29 cases had been documented, and some recruited children were under 15 when they had been recruited, which is a war crime under international law.[159]

Weapons

In July 2007, the weapons captured between 1984 and 2007 from the PKK operatives and their origins published by the Turkish General Staff indicates that the operatives erased some of the serial numbers from their weapons. The total number of weapons and the origins for traceable ones were:[163]

 
The choice and origin of the traceable weapons (July 2007)[163]
Type Quantity Sources
AK-47 Kalashnikovs 4,500 71.6% from the USSR, 14.7% from China, 3.6% from Hungary, 3.6% from Bulgaria
Rifles[nb 1] 5,713 of (959 traceable) 45.2% from Russia, 13.2% from United Kingdom, and 9.4% from United States.
Rocket launchers 1,610 (313 traceable) 85% from Russia, 5.4% from Iraq, and 2.5% from China in origin.
Pistols 2,885 (2,208 traceable) 21.9% from Czechoslovakia, 20.2% from Spain, 19.8% from Italy
Grenades 3,490 (136 traceable) 72% from Russia, 19.8% from United States, 8% from Germany,
Land mines 11,568 (8,015 traceable) 60.8% from Italy, 28.3% from Russia, 6.2% from Germany

Turkish authorities claimed that four members of the organization, who handed themselves over to authorities after escaping from camps in northern Iraq, claimed they had seen two U.S. armored vehicles deliver weapons, which was widely reported and further stoked suspicions about U.S. policy in Iraq.[164] The US envoy denied these claims.[165] The arms were claimed to be part of the Blackwater Worldwide arms smuggling allegations. The probe of organization’s weapons and the investigation of Blackwater employees were connected.[166] The PKK also denied these claims.

Resources

Funding

Parties and concerts are organized by branch groups.[167] Additionally, it is believed that the PKK earns money through the sale of various publications, as well as receiving revenues from legitimate businesses owned by the organization, and from Kurdish-owned businesses in Turkey, Russia, Iraq, Iran and Western Europe.[168][169] Besides affiliate organizations, it is claimed that there are sympathizer organizations such as the Confederation of Kurdish Associations in Europe and the International Kurdish Businessmen Union which constantly exchanges information and perform legitimate or semi-legitimate commercial activities and donations.[citation needed]

According to the European Police Office (EUROPOL), the organization collects money from its members, using labels like ‘donations’ and ‘membership fees’ which are seen as a fact extortion and illegal taxation by the authorities. There are also indications that the organization is actively involving in money laundering, illicit drugs and human trafficking, as well as illegal immigration inside and outside the EU for funding and running its activities.[170]

Drug trafficking

PKK’s involvement in drug trafficking has been documented since the 1990s.[171] A report by Interpol published in 1992 states that the PKK, along with nearly 178 Kurdish organizations were suspected of illegal drug trade involvement. The British National Criminal Intelligence Service determined that the PKK obtained $75 million from drug smuggling in Europe in 1993 alone.[172] Members of the PKK have been designated narcotics traffickers by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.[173] The Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution, Germany’s domestic security agency, echoed this finding in its 2011 Annual Report on the Protection of the Constitution, stating that despite the U.S Department of Treasury designation, there was “no evidence that the organizational structures of the PKK are directly involved in drug trafficking”.[174]

On 14 October 2009, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) targeted the senior leadership of the PKK, designating Murat Karayılan, the head of the PKK, and high-ranking members Ali Riza Altun and Zübeyir Aydar as foreign narcotics traffickers at the request of Turkey.[173] On 20 April 2011, the U.S. Department of the Treasury announced the designation of PKK founders Cemîl Bayik and Duran Kalkan and other high-ranking members as Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNT) pursuant to the Foreign Narcotics Kingpin Designation Act (Kingpin Act). Pursuant to the Kingpin Act, the designation freezes any assets the designees may have under U.S. jurisdiction and prohibits U.S. persons from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these individuals.[175]

According to research conducted by journalist Aliza Marcus, the PKK accepted the support of smugglers in the region. Aliza Marcus claimed that some of those Kurdish smugglers who were involved in the drugs trade, either because they truly believed in the PKK—or because they thought it a good business practice (avoid conflicts)—frequently donated money to the PKK rebels. She also claimed that there were reports of PKK supporters in Europe who used their positions and contacts to trade in drugs—and then handed some of the profits to the PKK. And when PKK activists needed more money, they had no qualms about approaching Kurds who trafficked in narcotics. However, according to Aliza Marcus, it does not seem that the PKK, as an organization, directly produced or traded in narcotics.[176]

Following the SDF capture of Raqqa, YPJ and YPG troops raised a large banner of Abdullah Öcalan in the city centre.[177]

In 2018, the state-run new agency AA claimed that the PKK has successfully kept its drug production and trafficking activities underground, both across the globe and within Turkey, and that the security forces had carried out more than 414 drug trafficking operations against the organization since the 1980. The Turkish authorities have also claimed that the organization gains 1,5 billion USD yearly from drug trafficking.[178][179]

The report, published by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), stated that the instability in Iraq has helped the PKK to develop and use Iraq as a transhipment point for Afghan heroin. The PKK was reported to collect taxes per kilogram of heroin trafficked to Turkey from the Islamic Republic of Iran and Iraq borders, with potential profits reaching US$200 million annually.[180]

The EUROPOL which has monitored the organization’s activities inside the EU has also reported the organization’s involvement in the trafficking of drugs and human beings to raise funds for its terrorist activities inside and outside the EU.[170]

On 1 January 2012, the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced the designation of Moldovan-based individuals Zeyneddin Geleri, Cerkez Akbulut, and Omer Boztepe as specially designated narcotics traffickers for drug trafficking on behalf of the PKK in Europe. According to the OFAC, Zeynedding Geleri was identified as a high-ranking member of the PKK while two others were activists. The OFAC stated that the drug trafficking is still one of the organization’s criminal activities it uses to obtain weapons and materials.[181]

Human resources

In 2008, according to information provided by the Intelligence Resource Program of the Federation of American Scientists the strength of the organization in terms of human resources consists of approximately 4,000 to 5,000 militants of whom 3,000 to 3,500 are located in northern Iraq.[182] With the new wave of fighting from 2015 onwards, observers noted that active support for the PKK had become a “mass phenomenon” in majority ethnic Kurdish cities in the Southeast of the Republic of Turkey, with large numbers of local youth joining PKK-affiliated local militant groups.[183]

International support

At the height of its campaign, the organization received support from many countries. According to Turkey, countries the PKK has previously/currently received support from include: Greece,[184][185] Iran,[186] Iraq,[187] Russia[188] and Syria.[186] The level of support given has changed throughout this period. Official Turkish sources also allege cooperation between the PKK and the Armenian Secret Army for the Liberation of Armenia (ASALA).[189]

Greece
According to Ali Külebi, president of an Ankara-based nationalist think tank TUSAM, “It is obvious that the PKK is supported by Greece, considering the PKK’s historical development with major support from Greece.” Külebi alleged in 2007 that PKK militants received training at a base in Lavrion, near Athens.[190] Retired Greek L.T. General Dimitris Matafias and retired Greek Navy Admiral Antonis Naxakis had visited the organization’s Mahsun Korkmaz base camp in Lebanon’s Beqaa Valley in October 1988 along with parliamentarians from the center-left PASOK.[191] At the time it was reported that the general had assumed responsibility for training. Greeks also dispatched arms through the Republic of Cyprus.[191] In December 1993, Greek foreign affairs minister Theodoros Pangalos was quoted as saying “we must be supportive of the Kurdish people to be free”.[192] Greece declined to join Germany and France and the eleven other members at the EU to ban the organization.[192] During his trial, Öcalan admitted, as quoted in Hürriyet, that “Greece has for years supported the PKK movement. They even gave us arms and rockets. Greek officers gave guerrilla training and explosives training to our militants” at a camp in Lavrion, Greece.[193]
Syria
From early 1979 to 1999, Syria had provided valuable safe havens to PKK in the region of Beqaa Valley. However, after the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria, Syria placed restrictions on PKK activity on its soil such as not allowing the PKK to establish camps and other facilities for training and shelter or to have commercial activities on its territory. Syria recognized the PKK as a terrorist organization in 1998.[194] Turkey was expecting positive developments in its cooperation with Syria in the long term, but even during the course of 2005, there were PKK operatives of Syrian nationality operating in Turkey.[167][195]
Iran
Iran provided PKK with supplies in the form of weapons and funds. However, Iran later listed the PKK as a terrorist organization after Party for a Free Life in Kurdistan used Iran’s supply of resources to the PKK on its own soil.[citation needed]
Armenia
Turkish and Azeri sources have alleged in 2007 that PKK maintains camps in the Armenian-controlled Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.[196] Armenia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakosyan called these allegations “sheer nonsense” in 2008.[197] In May 2008 a commentary in the right-wing newspaper Yeni Şafak claimed that the PKK’s leadership, “perhaps feeling insecure in northern Iraq, was mulling a move to Nagorno-Karabakh.” In response, Armenia’s Foreign Ministry press spokesman Vladimir Karapetian stated, “The unsubstantiated rumors about the intentions on the side of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) to move to Nagorno-Karabakh and controlled territories cannot be called anything less than another provocation.”[198]
Republic of Cyprus
Support of the Republic of Cyprus was alleged when Abdullah Öcalan was caught with a Cypriot passport under the name of Mavros Lazaros, a nationalist reporter.
Soviet Union and Russia
Former KGBFSB officer Alexander Litvinenko alleges that PKK’s leader Abdullah Öcalan was trained by KGBFSB.[199] As of 2008, Russia is still not among the states that list PKK as a terrorist group despite intense Turkish pressure.
United Kingdom
MED TV broadcast for five years in the UK, until its license was revoked by the regulators the Independent Television Commission (ITC) in 1999. The PKK has been listed as a terrorist organization since 29 March 2001. In 2008, the United Kingdom detained members of the PKK and seized the assets of the PKK’s representative in Britain, Selman Bozkur, alias “Dr. Hüseyin”. His assets remain frozen.[200]
Support of various European states
The Dutch police had allegedly raided the ‘PKK paramilitary camp’ in the Dutch village of Liempde and arrested 29 people in November 2004, but all were soon released.[201] Denmark allows Kurdish satellite television stations (such as ROJ-TV), which Turkey claims has links with the PKK, to operate in Denmark and broadcast into Turkey.[202]
Various PKK leaders, including Hidir Yalcin, Riza Altun, Zubeyir Aydar, and Ali Haydar Kaytan all lived in Europe and moved freely. The free movement was achieved by strong ties with influential persons. Danielle Mitterrand, the wife of the former President of FranceFrançois Mitterrand, had active connections during the 1990s with elements of the organization’s leadership that forced a downgrade in relationships between the two states.[203] After harboring him for some time, Austria arranged a flight to Iraq for Ali Rıza Altun, a suspected key figure with an Interpol arrest warrant on his name.. Turkish foreign minister Abdullah Gül summoned the Austrian ambassador and condemned Austria’s action.[204] On 30 September 1995, while Öcalan was in Syria, Damascus initiated contact with high-ranking German CDU MP Heinrich Lummer and German intelligence officials.
The Chief of the Turkish General Staff during 2007, General Yaşar Büyükanıt, stated that even though the international struggle had been discussed on every platform and even though organizations such as the UN, NATO, and EU made statements of serious commitment, to this day the necessary measures had not been taken.[205] According to Büyükanıt; “this conduct on one side has encouraged the terrorists, on the other side it assisted in widening their activities.[205] 
Sedat Laçiner, of the Turkish think tank ISRO, says that US support of the PKK undermines the US War on Terror.[206] Seymour Hersh claimed that the U.S. supported PEJAK, the Iranian branch of the PKK.[207] The head of the PKK’s militant arm, Murat Karayılan, claimed that Iran attempted to recruit the PKK to attack coalition forces, adding that Kurdish guerrillas had launched a clandestine war in north-western Iran, ambushing Iranian troops.[208]

Designation as a terrorist group

The PKK has been placed on Turkey’s terrorist list, as well as a number of allied governments and organizations.[17]

The European Union — which Turkey aspires to join — in 2011 renewed its official listing of the PKK as group or entity subject to “specific [EU] measures to combat terrorism” under its Common Foreign and Security Policy.[209] First designated as such in 2002, the PKK was ordered to be removed from the EU terror list on 3 April 2008 by the European Court of First Instance on the grounds that the EU had failed to give a proper justification for listing it in the first place.[210] However, EU officials dismissed the ruling, stating that the PKK would remain on the list regardless of the legal decision.[211]

The PKK is designated as a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the US State Department;[212] in 2018, the United States offered a $12 million reward for information on three PKK leaders.[213]

The PKK is also a Proscribed Organisation in the United Kingdom under the Terrorism Act 2000;[214] the British Prime Minister Theresa May used the phrase “Kurdish terrorism” in 2018, in a certain context.[215]

France prosecutes Kurdish-French activists and bans organizations connected to the PKK on terrorism-related charges,[216] having listed the group as a terrorist organization since 1993.[217] However, French courts often refuse to extradite captured individuals accused of PKK connections to Turkey due to technicalities in French law, frustrating Turkish authorities[failed verification].[218]

The following other individual countries have listed or otherwise labelled the PKK in an official capacity as a terrorist organization:

Australia,[219][220] Austria,[221] Azerbaijan,[222] Canada,[223] Czech Republic,[224] Germany,[225] Iran,[226] Japan,[227] Kazakhstan,[228] Kyrgyzstan,[229] New Zealand,[230] Spain,[231] Syria.[194]

States etc. not designating them as terrorist group

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained at a 2019 press conference that “NATO does not have a public list where we list different organisations as terrorist organisations. Some other national organisations have that kind of list, for instance the UN or . . . and EU, but NATO does not have that kind of public list, where we list terrorist organisations.”[232] Turkey has been a member of NATO since 1952, and fields the group’s second-largest armed contingent.

The PKK has never been designated as a terrorist organization by the UN.

Russia has long ignored Turkish pressure to ban the PKK,[233] and the group is also not included in the official terror blacklist of China (PRC), Brazil, Switzerland, India and Egypt.[234][235]

The government of Switzerland has rejected Turkish demands to blacklist the PKK,[236] though it has taken its own measures to monitor and restrict the group’s activities on Swiss soil, including banning the collection of funds for the group in November 2008.[237]Switzerland considers only those organizations as terrorist organizations which are in the terrorist list of the United Nations.[238]

Flags

Party flags

Flag of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) (1978–1995)[239]
Flag of the PKK (1995–2000)[239]
Flag of the PKK (2000-2002)
Flag of the KADEK (2002–2003)[239]
Flag of the Kongra-Gel (KGK) (2003–present)[239][240]
Flag of the PKK (2005–present)[241]

Flags of wings

Flag of the People’s Defense Forces (HPG, Formerly HRK and ARGK)[242][243]
Flag of the National Liberation Front of Kurdistan (ERNK) (1985-2000)[239][244]
Former flag of the Free Women’s Units of Star (YJA-STAR)[242]
Current flag of the YJA-STAR[245]

See also

Related and/or associated organizations

Notes

  1. ^ also rendered as Partiya Karkerên Kurdistan, such as on the group’s official website

References…

Further reading

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurdistan_Workers%27_Party

 

Story 2: Britain Finally Has European Union Divorce Agreement But Will Parliament Approve Boris Johnson’s Brexit Deal? — Videos

 

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Nigel Farage Would Prefer a General Election Over Boris Johnson’s Deal | Good Morning Britain

Boris Johnson seeks MPs’ support for Brexit deal in new race against time

The Five 10/18/19 | The Five Fox News October 18, 2019

‘And you thought he was crazy…’ How the world’s newspapers reacted to Boris Johnson’s Brexit agreement

But newspapers at home and abroad recognised that while one battle was won, the war continued in Westminster. 

The Prime Minister will on Friday seek to sell his Brexit deal to sceptical MPs, as he returns home fresh from an EU victory but risking defeat in parliament.

Mr Johnson pulled off a major coup in agreeing a new divorce deal with the European Union, paving the way for him to deliver his promise to leave the bloc on October 31.

But Thursday’s deal must still pass the House of Commons, which is meeting for…

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2019/10/18/thought-crazy-worlds-newspapers-reacted-boris-johnsons-brexit/

Do the deal! Poll reveals Britain wants MPs to stop the delay and back Boris Johnson today after his Brexit breakthrough

  • 50 per cent of people said MPs should back Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal in a Survation Poll for the Daily Mail  
  • A total of 47 per cent believe Mr Johnson’s plan should go to a referendum, compared with 44 against the idea
  • The survey found a surge in support for the Tories following the PM’s breakthrough at this week’s EU summit 
  • MPs will vote on Mr Johnson’s deal on Saturday, the first time Parliament is sitting on the weekend since 1982
  • The vote is set to be incredibly tight, with the PM trying to ‘lovebomb’ Labour MPs and Tory rebels to back him
  • Rebel Tory MP Oliver Letwin has tabled an amendment which could force Mr Johnson to request an extension 

Story 3: Hillary Clinton Rampant Russian Delusions, Lying and Paranoia — Russia Dumped Hillary Clinton for Tulsi Gabbard As The Russian Choice For Their Candidate in 2020? — In Your Guts You Know Hillary Is Nuts — Lock Her Up —  Videos — 

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Tucker: Hillary spreads vicious lies about fellow Democrats

Hillary Clinton calls Tulsi Gabbard a “favorite of the Russians”

Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are grooming a Democrat for 2020

Hillary Implies Tulsi Boosted by Russians | The View

Ingraham: Heeere’s Hillary

Hillary Clinton talks about the 2020 presidential election

Tulsi Gabbard: This is what’s so dangerous about Hillary Clinton

Russian to Conclusions: Hillary vs. Tulsi and Jill | The News & Why It Matters | Ep 397

Hillary Clinton suggests Russians are grooming a Democrat for 2020

Tulsi Gabbard fires back at Hillary Clinton’s Russian asset claim

Stein says Clinton promoting ‘unhinged conspiracy theory’

Tulsi Gabbard responds to Hillary Clinton: Clinton “knows she can’t control me”

Max Blumenthal on why Hillary Clinton smeared Tulsi Gabbard and Jill Stein

Tulsi Gabbard: 9/11 inspired me to enlist in the military

Tulsi Gabbard rips CNN, NY Times for ‘smearing’ her reputation

Tucker: Not everyone in 2020 Democratic field is a lunatic

The Five 10/18/19 | The Five Fox News October 18, 2019

State Dept. finds nearly 600 violations in Clinton’s email scandal

‘You can’t control me’: Defiant Tulsi Gabbard says Hillary has ‘the blood of thousands on her hands’ and calls her the ‘queen of warmongers’ after 2016 loser accused her of being a Russian asset ready to run as an independent candidate

  • Tulsi Gabbard bashed Hillary Clinton during an appearance on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Friday
  • She said the former Secretary of State is waging a smear campaign against her because ‘she knows she can’t control me’
  • It comes on the heels of Clinton claiming the Russians were ‘grooming’ a Democratic presidential contender to be a third-party spoiler candidate 
  • ‘They’ve got their eye on somebody who is currently in the Democratic primary and are grooming her to be the third-party candidate,’ Clinton said 
  • In response, Gabbard tweeted that Clinton was ‘the queen of warmongers, embodiment of corruption’
  • On her appearance on Tucker Carlson, Gabbard also insisted that Clinton has blood on her hands for ‘championing’ the Iraq War
  • Clinton did not mention Gabbard by name but the Hawaii representative has been accused of being a ‘Russian asset’
  • Gabbard, in Tuesday’s debate, said that allegation was ‘completely despicable’

Story 4: Trump Dazzles Dallas — Videos

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FULL TRUMP RALLY: President Trump holds campaign rally in Dallas, Texas

Trump holds a campaign rally in Dallas, Texas

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The Pronk Pops Show 1343, October 17, 2019, Story 1: United States Negotiates A 5 Day Cease Fire With Turkey and 20 Mile Buffer Zone — Videos — Story 2: Senate Fails To Override Trump’s Veto  of Legislation Approved by the Senate and House of Representatives to Kill His Border Emergency — Videos — Story 3: Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Resigns End Of Year — Going Home To Texas — Videos

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Story 1: United States Negotiates A 5 Day Cease Fire With Turkey and 20 Mile Buffer Zone — Videos

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Trump touts ‘incredible’ ceasefire deal with Turkey

Mike Pence: Turkey Will Hold Ceasefire in Syria for 120 Hours – FULL ANNOUNCEMENT

Vice President Pence announces Syria ceasefire

Turkey agrees to Syria ceasefire: Vice President Mike Pence l ABC News

Ceasefire Reportedly Reached Between Turkey And Syria

Trump on ceasefire in Syria: It is a great day for civilization

The Five’ reacts to Trump and Pelosi trading ‘meltdown’ insults

Donald Trump hails five-day ceasefire deal in Syria as ‘a great day for civilization’ and boasts of ‘incredible outcome’ claiming ‘great leader’ Erdogan and the Kurds are happy – but Turkey hits back that they have only agreed to a PAUSE

  • Vice President Mike Pence announced the United States and Turkey have reached a deal to suspend Ankara’s operations in northern Syria for five days
  • ‘It’s really a great day for civilization,’ Trump said of the agreement 
  • Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spent more than four hours meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in order to get a deal
  • Ceasefire will reportedly last for 120 hours to allow a withdrawal 
  • Turkey will also get a 20 mile buffer on its border that Kurds much avoid 
  • Kurds were not part of the negotiations but Pence said they signed on 
  • ‘They couldn’t get it without a little rough love,’ Trump said of the agreement. ‘This is an incredible outcome’
  • But Turkish officials downplayed agreement and said it’s ‘not a ceasefire’ 

Donald Trump on Thursday hailed an agreement between the United States and Turkey for a five-day cease fire in Syria as a ‘great day for civilization’ as Turkish officials down played the outcome of the deal. 

‘A great day for the Kurds. It’s really a great day for civilization. It’s a great day for civilization,’ Trump said.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the United States and Turkey reached a deal to suspend Ankara’s operations in northern Syria for five days to allow Kurds time to withdraw to a ‘safe zone’ as part of a cease-fire agreement.

‘The United States and Turkey have agreed to a cease-fire in Syria,’ Pence announced at the U.S. Embassy in Ankara after protracted negotiations with the Turkish government.

The deal establishes a 20-mile buffer zone on the Turkish border that Kurds would have to avoid – a move that essentially gives Turkey a portion of Syria to control.

Trump praised his team’s work and touted his own role in the matter.

‘They couldn’t get it without a little rough love,’ Trump said in Texas after the deal was announced. The president had threatened Erdogan about the deal, saying he would destroy the Turkish economy with sanctions if he didn’t sign on. ‘This is an incredible outcome.’

But Turkish officials down played the agreement, saying they agreed to suspend operations to let the Kurds withdraw and emphasized it was ‘not a ceasefire.’

‘We will suspend the Peace Spring operation for 120 hours for the PKK/YPG to withdraw. This is not a ceasefire,’ Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu said.

Vice President Mike Pence announced the United States and Turkey have reached a deal to suspend Ankara's operations in northern Syria for five day

President Donald Trump said the deal would not have gotten done without 'tough love'

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters gesture as they stand at a back of a truck in the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria

Turkey-backed Syrian rebel fighters gesture as they stand at a back of a truck in the border town of Tal Abyad, Syria

Trump infuriated members of both political parties – including some of his strongest Republican allies – when he announced earlier this month he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Northern Syria.

He was accused of abandoning the Kurds, who are U.S. allies in the region, and ceding control of the area to Russia.

A week of criticism from Capitol Hill compounded on Wednesday into a White House meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers where Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused Trump of having a ‘serious meltdown’ when talking about the issue.

But the president gloried in the agreement on Thursday, calling Erdogan a ‘hell of a leader.’

Vice President Pence outlined the details of the agreement, saying Turkey agreed five-day cease fire in order to let Kurds get out of the ‘safe zone’ and Turkey will have a buffer zone around its border that the Kurds will avoid.

‘Once that is completed, Turkey has agreed to a permanent ceasefire,’ the vice president said.

And he said that Kurdish fighters would honor the deal even as the Kurdish were not part of the negotiations.

‘We have repeated assurances from them that they will be going out,’ he said.

The deal includes a Kurdish withdrawal from a security zone roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish border, which Pence said the Kurds will comply with.

‘Our administration has already been in contact with Syria defense forces and we’ve already begun to facilitate their safe withdrawal from the nearly 20-mile-wide safe zone area south of the Turkish border in Syria,’ Pence noted.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd R), National Security Adviser Robert C. O'Brien (2nd R) and the American Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey (not pictured)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meets with Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (3rd R), National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien (2nd R) and the American Ambassador to Turkey James Jeffrey (not pictured)

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the agreement was 'not a cease fire'

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said the agreement was ‘not a cease fire’

Smoke and fire in the town of Ras al-Ain in Syria as Turkish forces gain ground there

Smoke and fire in the town of Ras al-Ain in Syria as Turkish forces gain ground there

‘We recognize the importance and value of a safe zone to create a buffer between Syria proper and the Kurdish population and the Turkish border,’ he said.

Additionally, the U.S. agreed to lift the economic sanctions it imposed on Turkey after the country sent troops into northern Syria once American forces had withdrawn.

The withdrawal of U.S. troops resulted in the Turkish military going ahead with a planned invasion into northeastern Syria, where Kurdish fighters had helped American forces in fighting what was left of ISIS.

‘The United States will not impose any further sanctions on Turkey,’ Pence announced.

And once a permanent cease fire is in effect, the president has agreed to withdraw the economic sanctions that were imposed this last Monday,’ he added.

But the agreement, however, gives Turkey what it wanted with its military incursion Additionally, the country is under no obligation to withdraw its troops under the agreement.

And the sanctions relief means the country will suffer no economic penalty from its military operation.

Trump, however, argued the deal will save lives and praised Turkey for signing it.

‘They’re not going to have to kill millions of people, and millions of people aren’t going to have to kill them,’ he said.

The president acknowledged the opposition to his decision to withdraw U.S. troops , including criticism he faced in his party from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and his longtime ally Sen. Lindsey Graham.

‘This outcome is something they’ve been trying to get for ten years, everybody, and they couldn’t get it. Other administrations, and they never would have been able to get it unless you went somewhat unconventional. I guess I’m an unconventional person. I took a lot of heat from a lot of people even some of the people in my own party, but they were there, in the end they were there. They’re all there. Look, this is about the nation. This isn’t about Republicans or Democrats. This is about our nation,’ Trump said.

He claimed the Kurds were very happy with the outcome.

‘They were incredibly happy with this solution. This is a solution that really – well it saved their lives, frankly. It saved their lives,’ he said.

But not all Republicans celebrated the president’s deal.

In a scathing speech on the Senate floor, GOP Sen. Mitt Romney slammed the agreement, saying ‘the cease-fire does not change the fact that America has abandoned an ally, adding insult to dishonor.’

‘The administration speaks cavalierly, even flippantly, even as our ally has suffered death and casualty. Their homes have been burned and their families have been torn apart,’ he added.

‘What we have done to the Kurds will stand as a bloodstain in the annals of American history,’ he said.

Republican Senator Mitt Romney slammed Trump's deal with Turkey as a 'bloodstain' on America

Republican Senator Mitt Romney slammed Trump’s deal with Turkey as a ‘bloodstain’ on America

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives Vice President Mike Pence at Presidential Complex in Ankara

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan receives Vice President Mike Pence at Presidential Complex in Ankara

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he wants 'something even stronger' than the House resolution condemning Donald Trump's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria as Republicans have opposed the president's move

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday he wants ‘something even stronger’ than the House resolution condemning Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria as Republicans have opposed the president’s move

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, called for even greater sanctions on Turkey

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Trump ally, called for even greater sanctions on Turkey

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters drive down a street in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad

Turkish-backed Syrian fighters drive down a street in the Syrian border town of Tal Abyad

There were fears among some Trump administration officials that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence would not be able to get a deal with Turkey

There were fears among some Trump administration officials that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Vice President Mike Pence would not be able to get a deal with Turkey

Graham said in a statement on Thursday he had a phone call with Trump, who spoke to him from Air Force One as he was in route to Dallas, Texas, after the deal was done.

‘Sounds like we may have made real progress regarding a cease-fire and hopefully sustainable solutions to prevent the reemergence of ISIS, the abandonment of our ally, the Kurds, and other strategic interests of the United States, like the containment of Iran,’ Graham said.

‘I stand ready to continue working with the President to build upon this breakthrough. I also stand ready to work in a bipartisan fashion to ensure this incursion by Turkey into northeastern Syria ends, hopefully, in a win-win fashion,’ he said. ‘Turkey has legitimate national security concerns within Syria but they cannot be met by invasion and force of arms.’

But there are still signs of dissension among the Republican ranks.

McConnell said Thursday he wants ‘something even stronger’ in the Senate than a House’s resolution that condemned Trump’s decision to with draw U.S. troops from Syria.

‘I believe it’s important that we make a strong forward-looking strategic statement. For that reason my preference would be for something even stronger than the resolution that the House passed yesterday which has some serious weaknesses,’ McConnell said from the Senate floor.

But nothing was raining on Trump’s parade.

Following the news of the deal, Trump tweeted: ‘Great news out of Turkey. News Conference shortly with @VP and @SecPompeo . Thank you to @RTErdogan . Millions of lives will be saved!’

Vice President Mike Pence met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara Thursday for more than four hours

Vice President Mike Pence met with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace in Ankara Thursday for more than four hours

President Trump tweeted the deal was 'great news'

President Trump tweeted the deal was ‘great news’

A Syrian woman and a girl, who were displaced by the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria, wait to receive a tent and other aid supplies at the Bardarash refugee camp, north of Mosul, Iraq

A Syrian woman and a girl, who were displaced by the Turkish military operation in northeastern Syria, wait to receive a tent and other aid supplies at the Bardarash refugee camp, north of Mosul, Iraq

The president went on to tweet: ‘This deal could NEVER have been made 3 days ago. There needed to be some ‘tough’ love in order to get it done. Great for everybody. Proud of all!’

He added that millions of lives will be saved.

‘This is a great day for civilization. I am proud of the United States for sticking by me in following a necessary, but somewhat unconventional, path. People have been trying to make this ‘Deal’ for many years. Millions of lives will be saved. Congratulations to ALL!,’ the president wrote.

The vice president touched down in Ankara earlier Thursday alongside Pompeo and National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien as they tried to stop the Syrian civil war descending into a bloody new phase.

His mission came a day after the White House released a letter Trump sent to Erdogan, urging him to make a deal.

‘You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering people,’ Trump wrote, adding: ‘Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool! I will call you later.’

The outlook for any deal had appeared bleak after Erdogan briefly toyed with the idea of refusing to meet with Pence at all.

He later relented, but repeatedly insisted he will not stop his assault on the Kurds – America’s former allies in Syria – until he has driven them away from his border.

Trump praised Erdogan for signing on to the agreement.

‘He’s a hell of a leader. And he’s a tough man. He’s a strong man. And he did the right thing, and I really appreciate it, and I will appreciate it in the future,’ he said Thursday.

He said – with the deal in place – Erdogan will likely make his visit to the White House next month.

‘That would be very much open. I would say, yeah, he would come. He did a terrific thing. He’s a leader. He had to make a decision. A lot of people wouldn’t have made that decision because they don’t know. They ultimately would have made it, but what he did was very smart and it was great for the people of Turkey, and they’re lucky it was him making the decision, I will tell you that,’ he said.

Trump told reporters during a press conference Wednesday that he hadn’t given Erdogan ‘a green light’ to invade northern Syria, and claimed releasing ‘a very powerful letter’ would dispel misconceptions about the impact of his troop withdrawal from Syria days.

‘If anybody saw the letter, which can be released very easily if you’d like – I could certainly release it,’ he said.

‘But I wrote a letter right after that conversation – a very powerful letter. There was never given a green light.’

Vice President Mike Pence carries details of the agreement as he prepares to announce the deal

Vice President Mike Pence carries details of the agreement as he prepares to announce the deal

Syrian National Army (SNA) members hang a Syrian National Army flag as they continue operations against the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey regards as a terror group, within Turkey's Operation Peace Spring

Syrian National Army (SNA) members hang a Syrian National Army flag as they continue operations against the PKK, listed as a terrorist organization by Turkey, the U.S. and the EU, and the Syrian Kurdish YPG militia, which Turkey regards as a terror group, within Turkey’s Operation Peace Spring

Correspondence: The letter reveals how Trump asked Erdogan not to invade northern Syria

 

The letter appears to support the president’s contention that he didn’t give Erdogan his approval for the military campaign.

‘Let’s work out a good deal!’ he wrote. ‘You don’t want to be responsible for slaughtering thousands of people, and I don’t want to be responsible for destroying the Turkish economy—and I will.’

The president pledged during the 2016 campaign to disentangle America’s military from what he called ‘forever wars’ – longstanding conflicts that the Pentagon has stabilized, often with thousands, or tens of thousands, of servicemen and women.

He used that pledge to justify his withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria.

Trump’s allies in his own party, including Lindsey Graham, turned on him with that decision.

Graham, who has been a Trump ally in fending off the Russia probe, blasted the president for abandoning Kurdish allies in Syria in an interview with the Christian Broadcast Network, where evangelical leaders have been voicing concern about the risk to minorities including Christians in the region.

‘I will do anything I can to help him, but I will also become President Trump’s worst nightmare,’ Graham vowed. ‘I will not sit along the sidelines and watch a good ally, the Kurds, be slaughtered by Turkey.’

Graham cautioned: ‘This is a defining moment for President Trump. He needs to up his game.’

Trump responded by claiming the Kurds are not ‘angels.’

‘Syria has a relationship with the Kurds – who by the way are not angels,’ Trump told reporters at the White House Wednesday.

‘Who is an angel? There aren’t too many around. But Syria has a relationship with the Kurds. So they’ll come in for their border. And they’ll fight,’ Trump said.

Graham on Thursday called for stricter sanctions against Turkey and introduced legislation that would target Turkish officials, end U.S. military cooperation with the NATO ally and mandate sanctions over Turkey’s purchase of a Russian S-400 missile defense system

‘Congress is going to speak with a very firm, singular voice, that we will impose sanctions in the strongest measure possible against this Turkish outrage that will lead to the re-emergence of ISIS, the destruction of an ally, the Kurds and eventually benefit to Iran to the detriment of Israel,’ he said during a press conference on Capitol Hill.

Meanwhile, a bipartisan majority in the House of Representatives voted Wednesday to condemn the president’s troop-withdrawal decision, where 129 Republicans joined Democrats to condemn Trump’s decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria in a 354 to 60 vote.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said hours later that they walked out of a meeting with Trump at the White House when he berated them for their views on Syria.

Pelosi said she witnessed a ‘meltdown,’ with Trump telling her some ISIS fighters were communists, and ‘that must make you happy.’

The White House said in a statement that ‘[t]he President was measured, factual and decisive, while Speaker Pelosi’s decision to walk out was baffling, but not surprising.’

The statement claimed Pelosi ‘chose to storm out and get in front of the cameras to whine.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7585159/US-Turkey-agree-deal-five-day-ceasefire.html

 

Vice President Pence said Oct. 17 the United States and Turkey had agreed to a five-day cease-fire in northern Syria to allow Kurdish fighters to withdraw. (The Washington Post)
Oct. 17, 2019 at 2:33 p.m. CDT

ISTANBUL — Turkey agreed Thursday to a cease-fire that would suspend its march into Syria and temporarily halt a week of vicious fighting with Kurdish forces, while allowing President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government to carve out a long-coveted buffer zone far beyond its borders.

The agreement, announced by Vice President Pence after hours of negotiations, appeared to hand Turkey’s leader most of what he sought when his military launched an assault on northeastern Syria just over a week ago: the expulsion of Syrian Kurdish militias from the border and the removal of a U.S. threat to impose sanctions on Turkey’s vulnerable economy.

Pence said Turkey had agreed to pause its offensive for five days while the United States helped facilitate the withdrawal of ­Kurdish-led forces, called the ­Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), from a large swath of territory stretching from Turkey’s border nearly 20 miles south into Syria. After the completion of the Kurdish withdrawal, Turkey’s military operation, which began Oct. 9, would be “halted entirely,” Pence said.

The White House agreed to refrain from imposing any new economic sanctions on Turkey and to withdraw sanctions that were imposed earlier this week once “a permanent cease-fire was in effect,” Pence said.

Mapping out Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria
Here’s where chaos unfolded in northern Syria as Turkey launched an invasion following President Trump’s Oct. 6 decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the area. (Joyce Lee, William Neff/The Washington Post)

Pence, who negotiated with the Turkish leader at the presidential palace in Ankara, portrayed the agreement as a hard-won victory and credited President Trump’s leadership and Turkey’s friendship for its success. The deal delivered Erdogan concessions he had been unable to win during years of negotiations with the United States and vindicated, in some way, his decision to pursue military action instead.

“It’s a great day for the United States, it’s a great day for Turkey,” Trump told reporters in Texas after Pence’s announcement. “A great day for the Kurds, it’s a great day for civilization,” he added.

Mazloum Kobane Abdi, the commander of the SDF, said in an interview on a Kurdish television channel that “we accepted this agreement, and we will do whatever it takes to make it work.” But the text of the agreement was “just the beginning,” he said, adding that “the Turkish occupation will not continue.”
Pence, Pompeo meet with Turkish president
Vice President Pence met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara Oct.17 to persuade him to case the military offensive on northeast Syria. (The Washington Post)

Pence’s whirlwind trip to Turkey came just a week after the start of a military operation that had prompted a hasty withdrawal of U.S. troops from Syria, led to dire warnings about the resurgence of the Islamic State militant group and abruptly caused a humanitarian crisis. Tens of thousands of people were uprooted from their homes. Dozens were killed in battles, on both sides of the border.

The Trump administration was criticized, even by some of its Republican allies, for abandoning the Syrian Kurdish militias, which partnered with the U.S. military to fight the Islamic State. Trump’s erratic statements about the conflict seemed to make matters worse: On Wednesday, he distanced himself from the conflict altogether, saying the fight between Turkey and the Kurds was “over land that has nothing to do with us.”

As Pence met with Erdogan on Thursday, the two men refused to smile, even a little, as their meeting got underway, as if to communicate failure before their negotiation had begun.

But afterward, a Turkish official briefed by participants in the talks said the Turkish side was surprised and relieved at how easy the negotiations were. “We got everything we wanted,” said the official, an adviser to the Foreign Ministry who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomacy.

Irritated by White House threats over the past week, Erdogan had prepared for a confrontational meeting, but the mood softened when it became clear the U.S. officials were asking only for what the Turks regarded as token concessions. In return for a brief pause in fighting, there would be no U.S. sanctions and no requirement for a Turkish withdrawal.

The request for a temporary cease-fire seemed to be “face-saving, for the U.S. side,” the official said. “It was as easy a negotiation as we’ve ever had,” the official said.

The agreement — aimed at separating hardened foes in a volatile area of Syria — faces obvious obstacles. The text raised a variety of pressing questions, including whether the combatants would honor their commitments.

But while it averted, at least temporarily, the most serious dispute between Turkey and the United States in years, the agreement faced immediate criticism, including from U.S. lawmakers who earlier in the day had introduced sanctions legislation on their own.

Trump’s actions in Syria had infuriated Capitol Hill, where Democrats and Republicans in the House voted earlier this week in large numbers to rebuke the White House for the troop withdrawal. On Thursday, some of Trump’s most vocal critics on Syria met the news of the cease-fire with open skepticism.

In a floor speech, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) pressed the administration to explain the United States’ future role in the region, the fate of the Kurds and why, in Romney’s view, Turkey will face no consequences after its incursion into Syria

“The announcement today is being portrayed as a victory. It is far from a victory,” Romney said. “Serious questions remain about how the decision was reached precipitously to withdraw from Syria and why that decision was reached.”

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), a co-sponsor of the bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), called the agreement “a capitulation to Turkey at the expense of our Kurdish allies.”

“The agreement lets Turkey off the hook for slaughtering innocent civilians and the Kurdish troops who fought alongside American soldiers against ISIS,” an acronym for the Islamic State, Hassan said in a statement. “Moreover, it does nothing to recapture the hundreds of ISIS soldiers who have already escaped from Kurdish-held prisons.”

Spokesmen for Graham and Van Hollen said they would continue to press the sanctions legislation.

Robert Malley, who served as a senior White House official during the Obama administration and is now president of the International Crisis Group, described the agreement as “a capitulation dressed up as a win.”

He said the Trump administration’s announcement validated the Turkish objective in Syria, “putting a gloss on it and claiming it was a deal reached through negotiations.” Malley said the terms appeared so ambiguous that they made possible renewed violence between Turkey and the Kurds.

The cease-fire agreement does not mention any Turkish withdrawal from Syria, where Turkish forces and their Syrian rebel allies have moved about 20 miles across the border over a broad width of territory. Although it says a “safe zone” will be established, the agreement also notes that Turkey’s military will take the lead in patrolling it.

Turkey has described the offensive as a counterterrorism operation directed at militants affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, or PKK, which has fought an insurgency inside Turkey for decades.

Just weeks before the incursion, Turkey and the United States had agreed after months of negotiations to jointly patrol a zone that would extend no farther than 8.6 miles into Syria. Turkey’s unhappiness with that agreement, both in terms of the amount of Syrian territory it covered and the extent of Turkish control, was one precipitating factor in the decision to invade.

The deal reached Thursday also does not address Turkish-backed Syrian militias, which have been the vanguard of the invasion. U.S. officials consider those fighters to be extremists, and they have been held responsible by international human rights organizations for numerous violations since they entered Syria, including the extrajudicial killing of Kurdish fighters and civilians. It remained unclear whether Turkey had agreed to withdraw those militias or would be able to do so.

International law prohibits returning refugees to their native land without their permission, and it allows the initial return only of those who originally came from that area. U.S. officials have said that those who have fled over the years from the border region, both Kurds and non-Kurds, amount only to several hundred thousand.

DeYoung and Kim reported from Washington. Sarah Dadouch and Asser Khatab in Beirut and Colby Itkowitz, Missy Ryan, Joby Warrick and Carol Morello in Washington contributed to this report.

 

Story 2: Senate Fails To Override Trump’s Veto  of Legislation Approved by the Senate and House of Representatives to Kill His Border Emergency — Videos

See the source image

The Senate Fails to Overcome Trump’s Veto on Border Wall

Senate won’t override Trump’s declaration veto

Trump uses veto power to kill bill that would block his border wall emergency

 

Senate Fails to Override Trump’s Veto, Keeping Border Emergency in Place

The vote fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to override President Trump’s veto, allowing him to continue circumventing Congress to fund the border wall.

Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Senate on Thursday failed to overturn President Trump’s veto of a resolution that would have terminated the national emergency he declared at the southwestern border. The defeat allows Mr. Trump to continue to defy Congress and divert federal funds to the construction of a border wall, his signature campaign promise.

The override attempt, the second such effort this year, failed when it fell short of the two-thirds majority needed to nullify a veto. But the 53-to-36 vote reflected concern among lawmakers in both parties about protecting Congress’s power to allocate federal funds and opposition to Mr. Trump’s plans to transfer billions of dollars in military construction money to build the border barrier.

Ten Republicans joined Democrats in supporting the measure.

Mr. Trump issued the veto Tuesday night, exactly seven months after using his first presidential veto to turn back a nearly identical resolution. Under the law, Congress can vote on such legislation every six months, and Democrats have used every opportunity to force Republicans to go on the record and choose whether to break with Mr. Trump, defending their prerogatives as legislators, or side with him.

The president declared the national emergency in February, after Democrats and Republicans in Congress rejected his efforts to secure $5 billion for the border wall, including during a 35-day government shutdown in which he repeatedly refused to accept any funding measure that failed to fund the edifice. The declaration, which Democrats have challenged in court, was Mr. Trump’s attempt to unilaterally seize money to pay for it anyway.

The failed attempt to overcome Mr. Trump’s veto comes as lawmakers are grappling with how to designate funds for the administration’s immigration policies, including whether to devote more money to the border wall and replace the funds originally intended for military construction.

Government funds for all agencies will now run out on Nov. 21 after a short-term spending bill passed last month expires and lawmakers are eager to avoid another government shutdown over Mr. Trump’s wall.

But the Senate has yet to approve any of the dozen necessary spending bills, which will need to be reconciled with the House’s versions before Mr. Trump can sign the bills into law.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said on Thursday that the Senate would vote on at least one package of appropriations bills next week.

“Congress has fallen badly behind schedule on appropriations,” Mr. McConnell said. “We need to get moving. The country is watching. It’s time to make progress.”

Lawmakers are eager to advance the bills.

“I’m hoping we can move forward,” Senator Richard C. Shelby, Republican of Alabama and the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, told reporters.

Some of the more contentious bills, including the measure that would fund the Department of Homeland Security, likely face a more contentious path to the president’s desk. Senate Republicans have included $5 billion for Mr. Trump’s wall in that bill while Democrats in both chambers have vowed to vote against any money for the wall.

While White House officials struck a budget agreement with congressional leadership earlier this year, it only set an outline for overall funding levels for military and domestic spending. In recent weeks, both chambers have exchanged offers on how to broadly divide the money among legislation dealing with domestic programs before hammering out the specifics of each of the bills.

Republicans have also objected to efforts from their Democratic counterparts to limit the president’s ability to again transfer money allocated to other agencies to the border wall, arguing that such language would be a violation of the budget agreement.

“I don’t want to say November 21 is a long time, but lots of stuff can happen between now and then,” said Senator Shelley Moore Capito, Republican of West Virginia, who leads the Appropriations subcommittee that funds the Department of Homeland Security.

“My bill’s the problem,” she added.

If lawmakers do not resolve the 12 spending bills before Thanksgiving, when the stopgap spending bill expires, a lapse in funding or efforts to pass another short term spending bill could potentially collide with an impeachment trial, which leaders believe could unfold in December.

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/17/us/politics/senate-veto-override-border.html

 

U.S. Senate fails to override Trump veto of bill to end border emergency

WASHINGTON, Oct 17 (Reuters) – President Donald Trump’s emergency declaration, which he says allows him to redirect federal funds to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, will stay in effect after the U.S. Senate on Thursday failed to override his veto of legislation terminating the executive action.

The Senate voted 53-36 on whether to override the veto that Trump issued on Tuesday of legislation approved by the Senate and House of Representatives to kill his controversial border emergency.

That was well below the two-thirds majority needed in the 100-member chamber to overturn a presidential veto.

This marked the second time since February, when Trump issued the emergency declaration, that Congress failed to override his veto.

Ten Senate Republicans joined with 43 Senate Democrats in the failed veto override attempt.

Trump made the construction of a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border a central promise of his 2016 presidential campaign to stop the flow of people without immigration documents from coming into the United States.

At the time he insisted that Mexico would pay for the wall, an idea the Mexican government never embraced.

Having failed to build the wall at Mexico’s expense, Trump waged several failed attempts to get the U.S. Congress to provide money for what would cost taxpayers an estimated $25 billion or more for a wall.

As a result, he used his executive powers to shift money from the military budget, including appropriated funds for housing, schools and childcare for soldiers and their families.

Democrats have maintained that the action is illegal as Congress has the constitutional authority to decide how federal funds are spent.

Most Democrats and many Republicans in Congress argue that there are more effective, less expensive ways of controlling the southern border, where large numbers of immigrants from troubled Central American countries and elsewhere arrive each year.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/reuters/article-7586279/U-S-Senate-fails-override-Trump-veto-bill-end-border-emergency.html

 

Story 3: Secretary of Energy Rick Perry Resigns End Of Year — Going Home Texas — Videos

Energy Secretary Rick Perry resigns

Rick Perry announces plans to resign as energy secretary

Sec. Rick Perry Explains ‘Expansive Relationship’ With Ukraine: ‘God as My Witness Not Once Was Biden

“The Coolest Job I’ve Ever Had” – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry

“My dear DOE family, I’ve said many times that I have the coolest job in the world and a big reason for that has been you, the men and women, who serve alongside me at one of the most innovative places on earth, the Department of Energy. You know, from my first day on the job in March of 2017, you welcomed me with open arms even though you probably didn’t know what to expect from this born-and-bred Texan who had just arrived in Washington, D.C.
But since that time, you and I have worked diligently to advance our DOE mission. And the great thing is, we succeeded and we continue to push the boundaries of what is possible each and every day. You know, some people wake up every day, and they wonder if they’re making a difference. The men and women who work at this Department do not have to worry about that – you are literally changing the world.
So, it’s with profound emotion and gratitude that I am announcing my resignation effective later this year as your Energy Secretary.
There is much work to be done in these upcoming weeks, and I remain fully committed to accomplishing the goals that I set out to accomplish at the beginning of my tenure. And then, I will return to my favorite place in the world, Texas, but I’ll treasure the memories of what we’ve accomplished together.
During my time here at DOE, we pursued a truly “all-of-the-above” strategy. We deployed all of our fuels from renewables to fossil fuels to nuclear energy. We led the world in producing oil and gas and in reducing energy-related carbon emissions at the same time. We achieved the magnificent goal of energy independence. We became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in more than 60 years, offering freedom to our friends and allies from energy coercion by some powerful adversaries out there. And we’re ready to export our energy technology to deliver electricity to more than one billion human beings mired in energy poverty. We strengthened our national security by bolstering our nuclear security. We cleaned up numerous sites as we tackled America’s post-Cold War environmental legacy. We stood up our CESER office to deal with threats to the reliable delivery of electricity. We created an office of Artificial Intelligence to coordinate the amazing work that we’re doing in this game-changing arena.
I’ve been blown away by the amazing work done at what I call the Nation’s crown jewels, our 17 National Labs. I’ve had the opportunity to visit all of them. In my travels abroad, people everywhere wanted to know about this Department, because our footprint and impact is global. And that is a testament to each and every one of you today.
I thank President Trump for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime. I am so glad that I said “yes.” And I thank all of you my colleagues, my friends, my family for making that opportunity a grand success. May God bless you as you continue to pursue DOE’s great calling and mission. And may God continue to bless this great Country of America.” – Secretary of Energy Rick Perry

US Energy Secretary Rick Perry on why he decided to step down

Watch CNBC’s full interview with outgoing US Energy Secretary Rick Perry

Energy Secretary Rick Perry to resign amid impeachment inquiry

Rick Perry TRASHES Trump Over Ukraine Call

Rick Perry says he did push Ukraine talks on Trump

Trump says Energy Secretary Rick Perry asked him to call Ukrainian president

Finding Rick Perry: The Missing Secretary Of Energy

Ukraine’s natural gas issues are hard to resolve amid tensions with Russia

Russia Imposes Natural Gas Hike on Ukraine

Apr 2, 2014

Rick Perry QUITS as Energy Secretary 24 hours after revealing Donald Trump told him to talk to Rudy Giuliani about ‘corruption’ in Ukraine

  • Rick Perry will be stepping down from his position as Trump’s Energy secretary
  • He sent a written notification to the president of his impending departure while Donald Trump was traveling on Air Force One Thursday 
  • Just 10 days ago, Perry denied that he would be departing the administration in the near future 
  • Perry said Trump told him this past spring to ‘talk to Rudy’ Giuliani about his concerns regarding Ukrainian corruption 
  • Perry, who has acted as a liaison between Trump and his new Ukrainian counterpart, was attempting to facilitate a meeting between the two 
  • Trump wouldn’t agree to the sit down until Giuliani’s concerns were addressed
  • Perry said Joe Biden was never brought up during  his talks with Giuliani 

He sent a written notification to the president as Trump was traveling aboard Air Force One, two people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg.

Trump confirmed Perry’s departure and said he was planning to announce the move at his rally Thursday night in Dallas, Texas.

‘We already have his replacement. Rick has done a fantastic job. But it was time,’ Trump told reporters in Texas, adding that his departure would come ‘at the end of the year.’

The president said that he has already has picked Perry’s replacement and will be announcing the new Energy secretary shortly.

‘We have the man that we’re going – in this case it’s a man – that we’re going to be putting in Rick’s place. We’ll be announcing it very shortly,’ he said.

Trump said he wasn’t surprised by Perry’s departure as the Energy secretary had informed him months ago that he was planning to leave the administration to pursue something else.

‘I knew six months ago. He told me at the end of the year he’d like to go and he’s got some ideas about doing something else. He’s a terrific guy,’ Trump lauded Perry.

‘Rick and I have been talking for six months. In fact I thought he might go a bit sooner. But he’s got some very big plans. He’s going to be very successful. We have his successor we’ll announce it pretty soon,’ he continued.

Rick Perry said Donald Trump told him to ‘talk to Rudy’ Giuliani about his concerns regarding Ukrainian corruption before he would agree to a sit down with his new counterpart

 The news come just 10 days after Perry, who has been with Trump since March 2017, denied that he was planning to resign his position in the immediate future.

Trump denied that Perry’s replacement would be Texas Governor Greg Abbott or Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy.

Perry has found himself at the center of the Ukraine scandal engulfing the presidency after he became one of the top liaisons between Trump and his new Ukrainian counterpart.

The former Texas governor announced earlier this month he was staying with the administration despite the controversy, although he did not rule out leaving at a later date.

‘They’ve been writing the story for at least nine months now,’ he said at the time of the media and his rumored departure. ‘One of these days they will probably get it right, but it’s not today, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not next month,’ Perry said while traveling in Lithuania.

Politico had reported last week that he was planning to resign at the end of November, citing three anonymous sources.

His departure will add to the extensive and ever-growing list of Trump administration officials who have left the White House.

Perry revealed in an interview published Wednesday night that he was directed by Trump to approach Rudy Giuliani to address the president’s concerns about corruption in Ukraine.

He told The Wall Street Journal that he contacted Giuliani in the spring to help clear the way for a meeting between the president and his newly elected Ukrainian counterpart.

Although Perry admitted that during his phone call earlier this year Giuliani outlined several potential instances of interference by Ukraine in the 2016 presidential elections, he said the president’s personal attorney never brought up Joe Biden or his family.

He also said he didn’t hear Trump, any of his appointees or the Ukrainian government ever mention probing the former vice president and his son, Hunter Biden’s business dealings there.

‘As I recall the conversation, he said, ‘Look, the president is really concerned that there are people in Ukraine that tried to beat him during this presidential election,’ Perry said. ”He thinks they’re corrupt and…that there are still people over there engaged that are absolutely corrupt.”

Perry said Giuliani didn’t make any explicit demands on the call.

‘Rudy didn’t say they gotta do X, Y and Z,’ Perry continued in his interview. ‘He just said, ‘You want to know why he ain’t comfortable about letting this guy come in? Here’s the reason.’

The House opened an impeachment inquiry into the president following revelations of a July 25 phone call where Trump urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to dig up dirt on his political rival.

Democrats allege the president set a quid pro quo in freezing millions in military aid in exchange for the Ukrainian regime’s investigation into the Bidens.

Perry’s talks and coordination with Giuliani show the widespread reach of the president’s attorney’s involvement in foreign policy. Giuliani is currently being investigation for potential foreign lobbying violations.

Giuliani confirmed his call with Perry and said he was telling the president’s energy secretary to be careful in dealing with Zelensky, who took office in May.

‘Everything I said there I probably said on television 50 times,’ Giuliani told the Journal.

The former New York City Republican mayor has accused Ukraine, under then-President Petro Poroshenko, of interfering in the U.S. elections on Hillary Clinton’s behalf.

Since Zelensky was elected, U.S. officials have been attempting to facilitate a meeting between and his new Ukrainian counterpart.

Perry and Giuliani’s call followed a White House meeting, which included Perry and then-U.S. envoy for Ukraine negotiations Kurt Volker, who resigned last month after revelations of Trump’s call with Zelensky.

In the meeting, Trump’s advisers urged him to meet with Zelensky, but people familiar with the matter said the president told them they needed to resolve Giuliani’s concerns before he would agree to the meeting.

‘Visit with Rudy,’ Perry said the president told him at the time.

Perry has been one of the administration’s top liaisons with the new Ukrainian president, which has put him under intense scrutiny as the president faces impeachment proceedings into whether he abused his power as president to dig up dirt on Biden.

Trump claims his call with Zelensky this summer was ‘perfect,’ and insists it was an attempt to help weed out corruption from the European nation. He also claims he has a duty, as president, to stop corruption, including from the Bidens.

Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney, is being investigated in relation to his role in U.S.-Ukraine relations – especially his claims of corruption and election interference by the previous administration there
Hunter Biden accepted a board position with Ukrainian natural gas firm Burisma Holdings in 2014 – while his father was still serving as Obama’s vice president. He reportedly was paid $50,000 per month in his post at Burisma.

The attorney and lobbyist stepped down from Burisma’s board earlier this year and also announced over the weekend he was leaving his position on the board of a Chinese-backed equity firm where he made millions.

Perry said Trump has dismissed his requests to meet with Zelensky in an effort to show U.S. support for the new administration – which Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, who is leading the impeachment inquiry, said is another potential of a quid pro quo.

Schiff said if Trump were to set an investigation into the Bidens as a condition for meeting with Zelensky, it could be another instance of him using his presidency to attempt to better his chances in 2020.

Perry revealed that Giuliani was also in contact with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Volker and U.S. ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland.

Perry to Resign as Energy Secretary

Rick Perry, the former governor of Texas who has become enmeshed in the Ukraine scandal, said he would resign as secretary of energy.

Rick Perry, the energy secretary, on Thursday in Fort Worth.
CreditCreditAnna Moneymaker/The New York Times

Rick Perry, the energy secretary who has drawn scrutiny for his role in the controversy surrounding President Trump’s efforts to push Ukraine officials to investigate the son of a political rival, told the president on Thursday that he would resign from the cabinet.

The Perry resignation had been anticipated for several weeks, even before the news emerged of his involvement in efforts to pressure the new president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, to investigate a company that had worked with Hunter Biden, the younger son of former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

In the ensuing weeks, Mr. Perry has been drawn deeper into the questions around the pressure campaign on Mr. Zelensky, which has spurred an impeachment inquiry that threatens to engulf Mr. Trump’s presidency.

Mr. Perry told The Wall Street Journal in an interview published on Wednesday night that he was in contact with Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani about Ukraine-related matters at the direction of Mr. Trump.

Mr. Perry has been instrumental in supporting what President Trump has called a policy of American “energy dominance,” which includes increasing the exports of United States fossil fuels to Ukraine and elsewhere.

As energy secretary, Mr. Perry oversaw a sharp increase in the production of fossil fuels, particularly liquefied natural gas, and promoted it with a patriotic fervor — even dubbing the fossil fuel “freedom gas” and likening its export to Europe to the United States efforts to liberate the continent during World War II.

“The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” Mr. Perry told reporters in Brussels in May, according to Euractiv.com. “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers,” Mr. Perry said, “it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

Mr. Perry also led a failed effort to engineer a federal bailout for struggling coal and nuclear power plants. Though the plan ultimately ran afoul of White House advisers, Mr. Perry has continued to maintain that the government still has the option of keeping aging plants operating, even as he asserted that incentives might be a better path forward.

A former Texas governor, Mr. Perry also avoided many of the personal scandals that had bested his counterparts at other agencies. In part because of that, those who know Mr. Perry have said at various points throughout the administration Mr. Trump has considered his energy secretary to fill other cabinet vacancies, including secretary of veterans affairs.

Mr. Trump also considered Mr. Perry, 69, to become his chief of staff after John F. Kelly resigned, and more recently to take over the Department of Homeland Security after Kirstjen Nielsen’s resignation, according to two people close to Mr. Perry.

Maggie Haberman is a White House correspondent. She joined The Times in 2015 as a campaign correspondent and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for reporting on Donald Trump’s advisers and their connections to Russia. Previously, she worked at Politico, The New York Post and The New York Daily News. @maggieNYT

Lisa Friedman reports on climate and environmental policy in Washington. A former editor at Climatewire, she has covered nine international climate talks. @LFFriedman

A Guide to Impeachment

    • What Impeachment Is: Impeachment is charging a holder of public office with misconduct. Here are answers to seven key questions about the process.
    • What the Accusation Is: President Trump is accused of breaking the law by pressuring the president of Ukraine to look into former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., a potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. A second person, this one with “firsthand knowledge” of Mr. Trump’s dealings with Ukraine, came forward and is now protected as a whistle-blower.
    • What Was Said: The White House released a reconstructed transcript of Mr. Trump’s call to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine.
    • A Visual Timeline: Here are the key figures and dates as Mr. Trump and his allies pressured Ukraine to investigate his political opponents.
    • Why Now: A whistle-blower complaint filed in August said that White House officials believed they had witnessed Mr. Trump abuse his power for political gain. Here are 8 takeaways from the complaint.
    • How Trump Responds: The president said the impeachment battle would be “a positive” for his re-election campaign. Mr. Trump has repeatedly referred to the whistle-blower as “crooked” and condemned the news media reporting on the complaint. At the beginning of October, Mr. Trump publicly called on China to examine Mr. Biden as well.

om/2019/10/17/us/politics/rick-perry-energy-secretary-resigns.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.c

 

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The Pronk Pops Show 1342, October 16, 2019, Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos –Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos — Story 3: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decendent and President of Italy — Videos

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Story 1: Democrat Debate Demolition Derby Smashing Senator Warren — Trump Again The Winner vs Lying Lunatic Leftist Losers —  Videos

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See what Democratic candidates said about impeaching Trump

Elizabeth Warren cements status as Democratic frontrunner by being focus of rivals’ attack in 2020 debate, but it’s Bernie who gets AOC and her Squad’s coveted endorsement, as all 12 candidates unite behind impeaching Trump

  • A dozen Democratic candidates were in Westerville, Ohio, for the fourth primary debate Tuesday night
  • Senator Bernie Sanders took to the stage at Otterbein University just a few weeks after his heart attack 
  • He reassured the crowd of his health saying: ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great!’ 
  • Joe Biden defended his family’s name during the debate despite scrutiny in the Ukraine scandal and his son’s international business dealings saying: ‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong’ 
  • Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, was interviewed by ABC News Tuesday morning, where no topic was off limits 
  • Elizabeth Warren has recently emerged as the frontrunner – surpassing Biden in several polls this month 
  • She is facing controversy over claims she was forced from a teaching position because she was pregnant, which critics point out she contradicted in the past
  • Tuesday’s debate started with a united front with all candidates calling for Trump’s impeachment
  • In the first hour Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and called out Elizabeth Warren by questioning her Medicare for All single-payer healthcare plan
  • In the second hour of the debate Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria
  • Mayor Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke sparred over his proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles

Democratic presidential candidates who took the stage for the fourth presidential debate in Ohio called for Donald Trump’s impeachment for ‘selling out’ the American people – then blasted emerging front-runner Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

But during a prime-time event where Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders had to field questions about both his health and his age, it is the 78-year old Vermonter who got a jolt when it was revealed New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would be endorsing his campaign at a Queens rally Saturday. Fellow squad member Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota also endorsed Sanders but it’s unclear if she will be at Saturday’s event.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, who has dominated polling for months, began the debate by defending the conduct of his son’s work in Ukraine on a day Hunter Biden fielded questions during a sit-down interview on his work for a Ukrainian energy company. He said he and his son had ‘done nothing wrong’.

During the first portion of the debate, he spoke on impeachment and his son, then remained on the sidelines for long stretches while Warren, who has jumped in national and state polls, fielded attacks from rivals.

Biden went after Warren directly later in the debate when he said his political rivals didn’t measure up to his accomplishments.

‘I’m the only one on the stage who’s gotten anything really big done,’ Biden said.

Warren countered by citing her work as an architect for what became the Consumer Financial Control Board before she got elected to the Senate. ‘I convinced people to vote for it,’ Biden responded.

Warren parried that she was ‘deeply grateful to president Obama who fought so hard to make sure that agency was passed into law’.

Tuesday's Presidential Debate: (From left to right) Tulsi Gabbard, Tom Steyer, Cory Booker, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, Pette Buttigieg, Andrew Yang, Beto O'Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, and Julián Castro took to the debate stage Tuesday night in Westerville, Ohio hosted at Otterbein University

The calm before the storm: Tuesday's debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

The calm before the storm: Tuesday’s debate started with the candidates putting on a united front in tearing into Donald Trump and backing his impeachment

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump's impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him 'the most corrupt president in all our history'

Senator Kamala Harris, Senator Bernie Sanders and former Vice President Joe Biden smiled as they took the stage Tuesday night before they called for Trump’s impeachment, with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history’

Tuesday's debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Tuesday’s debate was moderated by The New York Times national editor Marc Lacey (left), moderator and CNN anchor Anderson Cooper (center) and moderator and CNN anchor Erin Burnett (right)

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Former Vice President Joe Biden listened as Senator Elizabeth Warren slammed President Donald Trump in the first hour of the fourth Democratic primary debate on Tuesday

Sanders also pushed back and Biden for his claim at the expense of the group’s accomplishments.

‘Joe, you talked about working with Republicans and getting things done. But you know what, you also got done, and I say this as a good friend – You got the disastrous war in Iraq done. You got a bankruptcy bill, which is hurting middle class families all over this country. You got trade agreements like NAFTA and (trade relations) with China done, which have cost us 4 million jobs,’ he said.

Warren spoke for nearly 23 minutes during the three-hour debate, with Biden getting the second-most time, but a full six minutes less, followed by Klobuchar.

The Massachusetts senator responded to a question from CNN after the debate about attacks from some rivals that her health plan would soak the middle class.

‘Yes your taxes will go up, but your overall costs will go down,’ she said.

Warren repeated her call to break up big tech companies like Facebook and Google – another of her proposals that brought her criticism from her rivals.

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang compared it to people to wanting to use the number four search engine. ‘There is a reason why no one is using Bing today,’ he quipped.

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg went after former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke over his assault weapon buyback program, and said there was no time for ‘purity tests.’

O’Rourke said the nation must not ‘be limited by the polls and the consultants and the focus groups.’

That prompted Ban angry rejoinder from Buttigieg, who shot back: ‘The problem isn’t the polls. The problems is the policy. And I don’t need lessons from you on courage, political or personal.’

Others blasted Warren for the cost of her Medicare-for-all plan.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota told her: ‘I’m sorry Elizabeth. You are making Republican talking points in this room,’ adding: ‘We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’ She told Warren, ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done.’

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg told Warren.

California Sen. Kamala Harris pushed Harris to join her demand that Twitter suspend Donald Trump’s account due to his incendiary tweets.

‘I would urge you to join me,’ she said, saying Trump used the platform to ‘intimidate witnesses, to threaten witnesses, to obstruct justice.’

Warren shot back: ‘I don’t just want to push Trump off Twitter, I want to push him out of the White House.’

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden beams as he takes a selfie with supporters after the fourth Democratic primary debate in Ohio last night

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages

Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate

Biden embraces Warren as he spoke to her last night following a question about their ages (left) and Biden in discussion with Sanders during a break in the primary debate (right)

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Biden takes a sip from a CNN mug last night while pointing during the fourth debate between the Democrat White House hopefuls

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was 'feeling great' in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Senators Kamala Harris and Bernie Sanders shake hands during the debate, the elder Senator declared last night he was ‘feeling great’ in his first stage outing since suffering a heart attack

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

Sanders hugs billionaire activist Tom Steyer at the conclusion of the fourth U.S. Democratic presidential candidates

A record 12 Democratic 2020 candidates took to the debate stage in Ohio Tuesday night and immediately united in calling for Donald Trump – the man they all have been planning to run against – to be impeached with Joe Biden calling him ‘the most corrupt president in all our history.’

Meeting for the first time since House Speaker Nancy Pelosi proclaimed a formal impeachment inquiry, the candidates blasted Trump’s push to have Ukraine investigate the Bidens, and accused him of self-dealing and ‘selling out’ the American people.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who has jumped in the polls, fielded the first question at the fourth Democratic debate. An early caller for Trump’s impeachment, she said: ‘This president has obstructed justice and had done it repeatedly,’ Warren said.

‘Impeachment is the way that we establish that this man will not be permitted to break the law over and over without consequences,’ Warren continued.

Sanders, on stage for the first time since his heart attack, called Trump: ‘The most corrupt president in the history of this country.’

Sanders accused Trump of ‘enriching himself while using the Oval Office … in order to get dirt on a presidential candidate is beyond comprehensible.’ He called for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to ‘do the right thing and allow a free and fair trial in the Senate.’

Biden, whose son Hunter’s business in Ukraine featured in Trump’s push for a probe by the Ukrainian government, called Trump ‘the most corrupt president in modern history and I think all of our history.’

The dozen candidates met in Ohio for the first time since 10 front-runners met in Houston last month. It was the largest Democratic debate in recent memory. Others split candidates into separate pools.

The intervening period featured a dramatic move among House Democrats toward opening an impeachment inquiry of President Trump, after a whistle-blower alleged the president abused his office by pressuring the Ukrainian government to investigate the Bidens.

Billionaire Tom Steyer made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the 'criminal of the White House'

South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg took to the stage and said he is the Democratic nominee that will be the 'president that can turn the page'

Billionaire Tom Steyer (left) made his debut on the debate stage Tuesday night where he slammed Donald Trump as the ‘criminal of the White House’ and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg (right) claimed he is the Democratic nominee that will be the ‘president that can turn the page’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Amy Klobuchar went head to head with Elizabeth Warren over healthcare plans, as former housing secretary Julian Castro looked on during the presidential debate hosted at Otterbein University

Sen. Kamala Harris defended women's health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night

In a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker warned his fellow Democratic candidates against 'tearing each other down because we have a different plan'

Sen. Kamala Harris (left) defended women’s health and rights when she spoke at the podium Tuesday night and in a poignant moment New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker (right) warned his fellow Democratic candidates against ‘tearing each other down because we have a different plan’

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn't specified how she'll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Sen Klobuchar dug into Elizabeth Warren saying she hasn’t specified how she’ll finance Medicare for All single-payer health care plan under her presidency

Biden delivered yet another defense of his son, on a day when Hunter Biden told ABC he would forego foreign work if his father wins the presidency, acknowledged some responsibility for the appearance of favoritism, and admitted he got jobs due to his father’s name.

‘My son did nothing wrong. I did nothing wrong. I carried out the policy of the United States in rooting out corruption in Ukraine,’ Joe Biden said when pressed on the issue – while seeking to steer clear of details.

‘My son’s statement speaks for itself what I think is important is we focus on why it’s so important to remove this man from office,’ Biden said. ‘Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs, have already proven that they are in fact flat lying,’ Biden intoned, referencing Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, who pushed Ukraine to probe the Bidens.

Biden argued the focus should be on Trump.

‘This president on three occasions, three occasions has invited foreign governments and heads of government to get engaged in trying to alter our elections. The fact is that it is outrageous. Rudy Giuliani, the president and his thugs have already proven that they, in fact, are flat lying. What we have to do now is focus on Donald Trump. He doesn’t want me to be the candidate. He is going after me because he knows if I get the nomination, I will beat him like a drum,’ he said. Trump did focus attacks on as the poll leader throughout the summer while officials were deliberating on how to push Ukraine.

His comments came after Biden adviser Anita Dunn told DailyMail.com of Hunter’s performance in an interview designed to move past the issue: ‘He answered all the questions.’

Sen. Kamala Harris of California, a former prosecutor, said Trump ‘has committed crimes in plain sight.’ She said Trump had been ‘selling out the American people.’

‘On this issue with Ukraine he’s been selling out democracy,’ Harris said, standing by her statement that she has seen enough evidence to vote to impeach.

‘I know a confession when I see it,’ she said.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker said he feels as much ‘outrage’ as fellow Democrats. But he cautioned: ‘This has got to be about patriotism and not partisanship.’

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: 'If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country'

Speaking on impeachment, Democratic presidential hopeful Representative for Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard (left, alongside Tom Steyer) said: ‘If impeachment is driven by these hyper-partisan interests, it will only further divide an already terribly divided country’

Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, billionaire Tom Steyer and Sen. Cory Booker pictured from left to right on the debate stage

At the top of the debate the candidates squabbled over health care plans and taxes on billionaires

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

Businessman Andrew Yang advocated for his $1,000-a-month universal basic income policy proposal on Tuesday saying the plan would help families as he mentioned his own two sons, adding that one is autistic

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said 'I don't have beef with billionaires' while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents 'so every other kid in America has a chance to make it'

No beef with billionaires: During the Tuesday debate Elizabeth Warren said ‘I don’t have beef with billionaires’ while defending taxing the rich, adding they should pitch in two cents ‘so every other kid in America has a chance to make it’

Trump's double standard: Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro blasted Trump for 'caging kids on the border' while he is 'effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free' in the Middle East. 'He has made a tremendous mistake, a total disaster in Syria,' he added

Putting Russia in check: Beto O'Rourke argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin's corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying 'ademas' in place of 'furthermore'

Former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro (left) blasted Trump for ‘caging kids on the border’ while he is ‘effectively letting ISIS prisoners run free’ in the Middle East and Beto O’Rourke (right) argued that the U.S. must keep Russia accountable for Putin’s corruption and dropped in a lick of Spanish saying ‘ademas’ in place of ‘furthermore’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: 'I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax' – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals on Tuesday

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked 'Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?' to Biden and the two shared a hug

In one friendly moment Sen. Bernie Sanders joked ‘Are you suggesting I’m Vladimir Putin?’ to Biden and the two shared a hug

Tuesday's debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Tuesday’s debate, hosted at Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, saw the candidates disagree on having troops in the Middle East, healthcare, and taxing the rich

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota delivered an impassioned attack on Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

‘He’s digging up dirt on an opponent. That’s illegal conduct,’ said Klobuchar, also a former prosecutor. ‘I’m still waiting to find out from him how making that call to the head of Ukraine and trying to get him involved in interfering in our election makes America great again.’

‘I would like to hear from him how coddling up to Vladimir Putin makes America great again. It doesn’t make America great again, it makes Russia great again,’ she said, playing off Trump’s campaign slogan.

Former Obama Housing and Urban Development secretary Julian Castro said of the impeachment effort: ‘We can walk and chew gum at the same time.’

Biden, who has taken heat for a series of verbal stumbles on the campaign trail, flubbed when he said: ‘I want to eliminate the capital gains tax – I would double the capital gains tax’ – one of his signature tax proposals.

‘The rich are not like you and me,’ said Warren, calling for her tax on multi-millionaires’ accumulated wealth.

Klobuchar didn’t denounce the idea, but said: ‘Just because we have different ideas and get to the same place in terms of beating Donald Trump and taking this on – we are in Ohio, we can win Ohio in the presidency, but only if we unite … and [not] go fighting against each other.’

But as the debate shifted quickly from impeachment to health, the united front crumbled rapidly.

Elizabeth Warren came under attack from her fellow Democrats for not being more specific about how she would pay for her universal health care plan, which some economists predict could cost in the trillions.

‘I have made clear what my principles are here. That is costs will go up for the wealthy and for big corporations and for hard working middle class families, costing will go down,’ the Massachusetts senator said of her support for Medicare for All. ‘Costs will go up for wealthy, for big corporations. They will not go up for middle class families. I will not sign a bill into law that raises their costs. Because costs are what people care about.’

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a 'regime change war'

 

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying 'Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values'

In the second hour of the debate Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both military veterans, went head to head over U.S. presence in the Middle East and Syria. Gabbard called U.S. boots in Syria a ‘regime change war’. South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg hit back saying: ‘Respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values’

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O'Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke's proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: 'I don't need lessons from you on courage — political or personal'

Getting heated: Buttigieg and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke also squabbled over O’Rourke’s proposed mandatory buy-backs of assault-style rifles. Buttigieg called the policy impractical and after some back and forth slammed: ‘I don’t need lessons from you on courage — political or personal’

Pete Buttigieg went on the attack against Warren, who has lead recent polls for the Democratic nomination, arguing that her universal health care plan would divide the country over health care.

‘I don’t understand why you believe the only way to deliver affordable coverage is to obliterate private plans,’ he said. ‘Our country will be polarized, more than now, after everything we have been through, after everything we are about to go through, this country will be more divide. Why divide this country over health care when there’s a better way to deliver coverage for all?’

Amy Klobuchar also struck out at Warren, saying she hasn’t said how she will pay for her plan.

‘I’m sorry Elizabeth,’ she said. ‘You are making Republican talking points in this room.’

Klobuchar went on to say: ‘Bernie is being honest. We owe it to the American people to tell them where we will send the invoice.’

Sanders had acknowledged earlier in the debate taxes will go up under his Medicare for All plan.

‘As somebody who wrote the damn bill, as I said, let’s be clear. Under the Medicare for All bill that I wrote, premiums are gone. Co-payments are gone. Deductibles are gone. All out-of-pocket expenses are gone. We’re going to do better than the Canadians do. That’s what they have managed to do. At the end of the day, the overwhelming majority of people will save money on their health care bills. I do think it is appropriate to acknowledge that taxes will go up. They will go up significantly for the wealthy and for virtually everybody, the tax increase will be substantially less than what they were paying for premiums and out of pocket expansions,’ he said.

‘I appreciate Elizabeth’s work,’ she added but then said: ‘The difference between a plan and a pipe dream is something that you can actually get done. We can get this public option done.’

Both Klobuchar and Kamala Harris expressed frustration about how many times Democrats have argued about health care, noting they are in the fourth debate and saying the same things on the issue.

‘What bothers me about this discussion, which we had so many times, is that we don’t talk about the things that I’m hearing about from regular Americans. That’s long-term care,’ Klobuchar said. ‘We need long-term care insurance and strengthen Medicare. In Ohio that has been hit by the opioid epidemic, we need to take on the pharmaceutical companies and make them pay for the addictions they have caused in the people they have killed.’

And Harris got an extended round of applause for standing up for the abortion issue, which is of huge importance to Democratic primary voters who are worried judges appointed by Trump will revoke Roe vs. Wade.

‘This is the sixth [sic] debate we have had in this presidential cycle. Not one word with all of these discussions about health care, on women’s access to health care. It’s outrageous. There are states that have passed laws that will virtually prevent women from having access to reproductive health care. It’s not an exaggeration to say women will die because these Republican legislatures in these various states who are out of touch with America are telling women what to do with their bodies. Women are the majority of the population in this country. People need to keep their hands off of women’s bodies and let women make the decisions about their own lives,’ she said as the heavily Democratic audience cheered loudly.

When the debate turned to foreign policy, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard faced rejoinders from Democrats when she called out both President Trump and threw out blanket attacks on those who back what she termed a ‘regime change war’ in Syria.

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: 'I would love to take him on as a real businessman'

Tom takes on Trump: Speaking on breaking up big tech companies, billionaire Tom Steyer directed a message to Trump and said: ‘I would love to take him on as a real businessman’

Mayor Pete Buttigieg's husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s husband Chasten Buttigieg pictured in the audience of the fourth Democratic primary debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday's debate

Sen. Elizabeth Warren and entrepreneur Andrew Yang shared a high-five alongside Mayor Buttigieg during Tuesday’s debate

‘First of all, we’ve got to understand the reality of the situation there, which is that the slaughter of the Kurds being done by Turkey is yet another negative consequence of the regime change war we’ve been waging in Syria,’ Gabbard said. ‘Donald Trump has the blood of the Kurds on his hand, but so do many of the politicians in our country from both parties who have supported this ongoing regime change war in Syria that started in 2011,’ she continued, before blasting members of the ‘mainstream media’ who she said have been ‘cheerleading this regime change war.’

‘Just two days ago the New York Times put out an article saying that I’m a Russian asset and an Assad apologist and all these different smears. This morning a CNN commentator said on national television that I’m an asset of Russia. Completely despicable. As president I will end these regime change wars,’ she said.

Gabbard was referencing a recent Times piece that noted the lawmaker, who met with Assad in Syria and has accused fellow Democrats of ‘rigging’ the race, had injected ‘chaos’ in the race, while drawing supportive comments from former Trump strategist Steve Bannon and online approval from Russian bots.

Buttigieg took on Gabbard.

‘Well, respectfully, congresswoman, I think that is dead wrong. The slaughter going on in Syria is not a consequence of American presence, it a consequence of a withdrawal and a betrayal by this president of American allies and American values.’

Buttigieg, who like Gabbard has been deployed overseas as part of the military, said it was wrong to ‘abandon the international stage’ or ‘think our only choices are between endless war and total isolation.’

He said many U.S. troops are ‘ashamed of what their country has done’ by abandoning Kurdish allies who served as a ground force to take on ISIS in Syria and Iraq.

‘I don’t think we should have troops in the Middle East,’ said Warren. But she said the U.S. should extract its troops ‘the right way,’ then teed off on Trump, saying he has ‘sucked up to dictator,’ has ‘cut and run on our allies,’ and ‘has enriched himself at the expense of the United States of America.’

Warren tried to turn the tables on her rivals when asked about her plan to tax multimillionaires.

‘My question is not why do Bernie and I support a wealth tax. It’s why is it does everyone else on this stage think it is more important to protect billionaires than it is to invest in an entire generation of Americans?’ she asked.

‘No one is supporting billionaires,’ Biden interjected.

Buttigieg said he was ‘all for’ a wealth tax. ‘I’m all for just about everything that was just mentioned in these answers. Let me tell, though, how this looks from the industrial Midwest where I live. Washington politicians, congressmen and senators, saying all the right things, offering the most elegant policy prescriptions, and nothing changes,’ he said.

Added Warren: ‘So understand, taxing income is not going to get you where you need to be the way taxing wealth does, that the rich are not like you and me. The really, really billionaires are making their money off their accumulated wealth, and it just keeps growing. We need a wealth tax in order to make investments in the next generation.’

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured 'I'm healthy, I'm feeling great' after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him 'for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.' When Cory Booker joked, 'Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana', he joked, 'I'm not on it tonight'

In the second hour Bernie Sanders reassured ‘I’m healthy, I’m feeling great’ after he suffered a heart attack several weeks ago. He thanked his Democratic rivals on stage with him ‘for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes.’ When Cory Booker joked, ‘Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana’, he joked, ‘I’m not on it tonight’

'I'm feeling great!' Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

‘I’m feeling great!’ Sanders smiled as his peers including Sen. Kamala Harris and former Vice President Joe Biden applauded him after he shared his health update with the crowd

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: 'I don't just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House'

Sen. Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren sparred when Harris insisted on suspending Donald Trump from Twitter as Warren discussed breaking up and regulating tech giants. Warren quipped: ‘I don’t just want to push Donald Trump off Twitter. I want to push him out of the White House’

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age and asked Biden, Warren and Sanders their views of it. Biden quipped back it made him more wise for the job

Moderators pointed out Biden, 76, would be 80 in office. He replied: 'Look, one of the reasons I'm running is because of my age and my experience, with it comes wisdom. We need someone to take office this time around who on day one can stand on the world stage, command the respect of world leaders from Putin to our allies, and know exactly what has to be done to get this country back on track'

CNN's Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times' Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN’s Erin Burnett, Anderson Cooper and the New York Times’ Marc Lacey pictured at the moderators desk

CNN anchor Erin Burnett took the debate in a fraught direction when she asked a series of candidates questions about their age.

‘To the issue of candidates and their health: Senator Sanders, I want to start with you,’ she began.

‘I’m healthy. I’m feeling great,’ Sanders interrupted, drawing laughter from the crowd.

‘And Senator Sanders is in favor of medical marijuana. I want to make sure that’s clear as well,’ Booker jested.

‘I’m not on it tonight,’ Sanders insisted.

‘Senator, we are all very glad you’re feeling well,’ Burnett said.

Then she posed a ‘question on a lot of people’s minds … You’re 78 years old, and you just had a heart attack. How do you reassure democratic voters that you’re up to the stress of the presidency?’

‘Well, let me invite you all to a major rally we’re having in Queens, New York,’ Sanders said. ‘We’re going to have a special guest at that event, and we are going to be mounting a vigorous campaign all over this country. That is how I think I can reassure the American people.’

‘But let me take this moment, if I might, to thank so many people from all over this country, including many of my colleagues up here, for their love, for their prayers, for their well wishes,’ Sanders continued. ‘And I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart and I’m so happy to be back here with you this evening.’ That drew sustained applause from candidates and audience members alike.

Burnett then asked Biden if he could handle the office of the presidency being inaugurated at the age of 80. She also put an age question to Warren, 71.

Any of the three of them would all be the oldest president ever inaugurated in their first term in U.S. history if elected.

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

The end of the debate: At the close of the heated debate Joe Biden shook hands with Pete Buttigieg

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate+46

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang and South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg then posed with fans following the wrap up of the debate

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he's the most qualified man for the job

Say cheese: Biden snapped selfies with supporters following the fourth Democratic primary where he defended his age and boasted he’s the most qualified man for the job

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Cool down: Elizabeth Warren took a swing of coconut water after the debate where she was attacked multiple times and treated like the frontrunner of the political race

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg made sure to get a photo with Joe Biden and supporters before exiting the stage

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Ilhan Omar

On Tuesday it was reported that Congress ‘Squad’ member Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (left) would endorse Sen. Bernie Sander’s presidential campaign. Fellow member Ilhan Omar (right) also endorsed Sanders Tuesday night

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577743/TWELVE-Democratic-candidates-meet-stage-Ohio.html

Story 2: President Trump Calls House Speaker Pelosi A Third Rate Politician In Exchange of Words — “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.” — Speaker Pelosi Stormed Out of Meeting — Democrats Lying: No Trump Meltdown — Videos

McCarthy says Pelosi stormed out of meeting with Trump over Syria

Hannity: Trump calls Pelosi a ‘third-rate politician’

Nancy Pelosi: Trump had a meltdown in meeting

Day 1,000: Nancy Pelosi Says Trump Had A ‘Meltdown’ At The White House | The 11th Hour | MSNBC

 

‘See you at the polls’: Trump and Pelosi have it out

 

He said she’s a “third-grade” politician. She said he’s having a meltdown.

And with that President Donald Trump and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi chalked up the latest explosive meeting that ended abruptly with a walkout at the White House.

It’s a familiar ritual, with Trump and congressional leaders meeting on official business, only to see the session devolve into colorful, name-calling commentary that’s a new kind of addition to the history books. But this time, against the backdrop of the fast-moving impeachment inquiry, Pelosi arrived not just as the leader of the opposing party, but as the speaker who could determine Trump’s political future.

The administration called in congressional leadership to discuss the situation in Syria. The House had just voted, 354-60, to overwhelmingly oppose the president’s announced U.S. troop withdrawal, a rare bipartisan rebuke. Trump’s action has opened the door for a Turkish military attack on Syrian Kurds who have been aligned with the U.S. in fighting the country’s long-running war.

Trump kicked off the meeting bragging about his “nasty” letter to Turkish President Recep Erdogan, according to a Democrat familiar with the meeting who was granted anonymity to discuss it. In the letter, Trump warned the Turkish leader, with exclamation points, not to be “slaughtering” the Kurds. The person called Trump’s opening a lengthy, bombastic monologue.

Pelosi mentioned the House vote and Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, started to read the president a quote from former Defense Secretary James Mattis on the need to keep U.S. troops in Syria to prevent a resurgent of Islamic State fighters.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., listens while speaking with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

But Trump cut Schumer off, complaining that Mattis was “the world’s most overrated general. You know why? He wasn’t tough enough.” Trump went on, “I captured ISIS.”

Pelosi explained to Trump that Russia has always wanted a “foothold in the Middle East,” and now it has one with the U.S. withdrawal, according to a senior Democratic aide who was also granted anonymity.

“All roads with you lead to Putin,” the speaker said.

Then it began.

Trump said to Pelosi, “I hate ISIS more than you do.”

Pelosi responded, “You don’t know that.”

Schumer intervened at one point and said, “Is your plan to rely on the Syrians and the Turks?”

Trump replied, “Our plan is to keep the American people safe.”

Pelosi said: “That’s not a plan. That’s a goal.”

Trump turned to Pelosi and complained about former President Barack Obama’s “red line” over Syria. According to Schumer, he then called her “a third-rate politician.”

At that point, the genteel Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House Majority Leader, interjected, “This is not useful.”

Pelosi and Hoyer stood and left the meeting. As they did, Trump said, “Goodbye, we’ll see you at the polls.”

From the White House driveway, Pelosi told reporters Trump was having some kind of “meltdown” inside. She said they had to leave because Trump was unable to grasp the reality of the situation.

Later, she would insist he even botched the insult, calling her “third-grade” rather than “third-rate.”

The impeachment inquiry never came up, she said.

Trump insisted later on Twitter that it was Pelosi who had a “total meltdown,” calling her “a very sick person!”

He also tweeted pictures from the room. “Do you think they like me?” he asked mockingly about one, showing Pelosi and Schumer looking exhausted and glum.

“Nervous Nancy’s unhinged meltdown!” he tweeted with another.

In that photo, Pelosi can be seen, surrounded by congressional leaders and military brass around a table at the White House, finger outpointed. She is standing up, literally, to Trump.

Pelosi turned the photo into the banner on her Twitter page.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., speaks with reporters after a meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

President Donald Trump speaks during a reception for Italian President Sergio Mattarella in the East Room of the White House, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/wires/ap/article-7582015/See-polls-Trump-Pelosi-out.html

Story 4: President Trump Salutes American of Italian Decedent and President of Italy — Videos

Trump hosts White House reception for Italian president

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The Pronk Pops Show 1341, October 15, 2019, Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos — Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos — Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos — Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos

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Story 1: Senator Mitch McConnell on Unfair Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry and Syria — Videos —

Senator Mitch McConnell: Democrats Are ‘Throwing Fairness And Precedent To The Wind’ | NBC News

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

Trump was ‘absolutely right’ to take troops out of Syria: Rand Paul

Democrats, Republicans unite on Trump’s decision on Syria

Senate Needs to Make a Strong, Strategic Statement on Syria

McConnell splits with Trump on Syria pullout

 

Mitch McConnell rebukes Donald Trump over Turkish invasion of Kurdish-held Syria, saying troop pullout gives Iran a chance to reach Israel’s doorstep and contending worthwhile intervention does NOT make the U.S. world’s policeman

  • McConnell once again expressed his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria  
  • Said the door is ‘wide open’ for resurgence of ISIS
  • Said policy could put Iran on Israel’s ‘door-step’
  • Said standing up for U.S. interests does not make nation the ‘evil empire’
  • Trump has repeatedly complained the nation should not be world’s policeman 
  • At the same time, he blasted House Democrats on impeachment

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell directly confronted President Trump‘s complaint that U.S. troop deployment’s make it the ‘world’s policeman’ and expressed his ‘grave concern’ about Trump’s policy moves in Syria.

McConnell issued the rebuke without directly blaming President Trump for the latest calamity in the region – although he said Trump’s policy threatens to put Iran on Israel’s door-step and fuel a ‘humanitarian catastrophe.’

Following Turkey’s incursion into Syria in territory that had been controlled by U.S.-allied members of the Kurdish minority, McConnell warned that the ‘door is wide open for resurgence of the Islamic State.’

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump's contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the 'world's policeman'

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell took on President Trump’s contention that having forces remain in Syria was akin to being the ‘world’s policeman’

In a Senate floor speech, McConnell said the situation created a power vacuum that could fuel the meddling influence of Russia, and ‘leaving northeastern Syria wide open Iran to extend reach unimpeded all the way from tehran to the door step of our friends in Israel.

He also confronted the view, espoused directly by President Trump, that the U.S. should pull out of the region rather serving as the ‘world’s policeman.’

I want to make something clear, the United States has taken the fight to Syria and Afghanistan because that is where our enemies are, that’s why we’re there. Fighting terrorists, exercising leadership and troubled regions and advancing U.S. interests around the world does not make us an evil empire or the world’s policeman,’ McConnell said.

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey's military operation against Kurdish forces

This picture taken on October 15, 2019 shows a missile fired by Turkish forces towards the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain, from the Turkish side of the border at Ceylanpinar district in Sanliurfa on the first week of Turkey’s military operation against Kurdish forces

McConnell shared his 'grave concern' about the situation in Syria

McConnell shared his ‘grave concern’ about the situation in Syria

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted in his floor speech

McConnell had also warned of his ‘grave concern’ in a written statement Monday that did not mention Trump by name. But in his floor speech Tuesday, he included such a reference.

‘When it looked like President Trump would withdraw from Syria at beginning of the year, 70 senators joined in warning of the risk of precipitously withdrawing from Syria or Afghanistan,’ McConnell noted.

But even as he challenged the president on a policy that has resulted in the release of ISIS prisoners, led to attacks against key regional allies, and even led to shelling by Turkish forces toward a U.S. troop-held position, he defended the president on impeachment by attacking Democrats.

‘House Democrats are finally indulging in their impeachment obsession. Full steam ahead,’ McConnell warned. ‘I don’t think many of us were expecting to witness a clinic in terms of fairness or due process. But even by their own partisan standards, House Democrats have already found new ways to lower the bar,’ he complained.

McConnell has said he was required by Senate rules to hold a trial should the House impeach Trump.

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7577029/Mitch-McConnell-rebukes-Donald-Trump-Turkish-invasion-Kurdish-held-Syria.html

Trump’s Syria Mess

He resorts to sanctions as the harm from withdrawal builds.

Syrians fleeing Turskih advance arrive to the town of Tal Tamr in north Syria, Oct. 14. PHOTO: BADERKHAN AHMAD/ASSOCIATED PRESS

What a fiasco. Foreign-policy blunders often take months or years to reveal their damaging consequences, but the harm from President Trump’s abrupt withdrawal of U.S. forces from northern Syria is playing out almost in real time.

Critics said Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan would invade northern Syria despite Mr. Trump’s public warnings, and the Turkish strongman did. Critics said our Kurdish allies would strike a deal with Syria’s Bashar Assad to defend themselves, and the Kurds have. Critics said Islamic State prisoners held by the Kurds would be released and scatter to wage jihad again, and they are.

The mess compounded Monday when Mr. Trump authorized sanctions against several Turkish officials and agencies who are “contributing to Turkey’s destabilizing actions in northeast Syria.” The sanctions include financial measures and barring entry to the U.S. Mr. Trump also said he’s ending trade talks with Turkey and raising steel tariffs to 50%.

Mr. Trump now finds himself back in an economic and diplomatic brawl with Turkey that he said he wanted to avoid. Wouldn’t it have been easier simply to tell Mr. Erdogan, on that famous phone call two Sundays ago, that the U.S. wouldn’t tolerate a Turkish invasion against the Kurds and would use air power to stop it? Mr. Erdogan would have had to back down and continue negotiating a Syrian safe zone with the Kurds and the U.S.

Mr. Trump is also making matters worse with his unserious justifications. “After defeating 100% of the ISIS Caliphate, I largely moved our troops out of Syria. Let Syria and Assad protect the Kurds and fight Turkey for their own land,” he tweeted Monday. “Anyone who wants to assist Syria in protecting the Kurds is good with me, whether it is Russia, China, or Napoleon Bonaparte. I hope they all do great, we are 7,000 miles away!”

We suppose the Napoleon line was a joke, but the world is laughing at an American President. Mr. Trump was able to project an image of strength in his early days as he prosecuted the war against ISIS and used force to impose a cost on Mr. Assad for using chemical weapons. But that image has faded as he has indulged his inner Rand Paul and claims at every opportunity that the main goal of his foreign policy is to put an end to “endless wars.”

This is simple-minded isolationism, and it’s a message to the world’s rogues that a U.S. President has little interest in engaging on behalf of American allies or interests. Friends like Israel and Saudi Arabia are quietly dismayed, while Iran, Russia and Hezbollah can’t believe Mr. Trump has so glibly abandoned U.S. commitments and military partners.

By now it’s not unreasonable to conclude that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy can be distilled into two tactics—sanctions and tariffs. Mr. Trump wields them willy-nilly against friend and foe alike as substitutes for diplomacy and the credible threat of military force.

Mr. Trump won’t like to hear it, but the Syrian mess is hurting him at home too. Republicans who have stood by him through the Russia fight and more are questioning his judgment as Commander in Chief in an increasingly dangerous world. With impeachment looming, he can’t afford to alienate more friends.

Opinion: Trump's Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course

Opinion: Trump’s Foreign Policy Needs to Change Course
As Turkey advances into Syria, foreign powers will increasingly act on the belief that the American executive is both politically weak and intellectually unfocused. Image: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Imageshttps://www.wsj.com/articles/trumps-syria-mess-11571095091

TRUMP’S CHAOTIC SYRIA EXIT PUTS ANTI-WAR 2020 DEMOCRATS IN A DELICATE SPOT

THE PENTAGON announced on Monday that the U.S. was pulling all of its troops out of northeastern Syria at President Donald Trump’s direction, completing a withdrawal he had started by Twitter declaration a week earlier. The move further clears the way for a full-on invasion by Turkey, whose soldiers have already been accused of executing noncombatants. In the chaos, hundreds of Islamic State detainees have reportedly escaped.

Trump defended his decision in a series of early-morning tweets on Monday. “The same people who got us into the Middle East mess are the people who most want to stay there!” he wrote. “Never ending wars will end!”

Trump’s abandonment of eastern Syria and the U.S. military’s Kurdish allies has put progressive Democrats — many of whom also favor withdrawing from overseas military operations — in a delicate spot. Over the past week, they have been trying to thread the needle between condemning Trump for recklessly abandoning an ally and emphasizing that withdrawing U.S. troops should be an eventual policy goal.

Trump’s decision has showcased what a worst-case scenario for expedited military withdrawal could look like, making it harder for progressive Democratic presidential candidates like Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to press their cases against “endless wars” on the campaign trail. The question of how progressives can go about drawing down U.S. military commitments without repeating Trump’s calamitous actions would be an obvious pick for Tuesday night’s Democratic debate.

So far, the Democratic candidates have been critical of Trump but light on specifics about what they would do differently. Last week, Sanders condemned Trump’s withdrawal from Syria, telling reporters that “as somebody who does not want to see American troops bogged down in countries all over the world — you don’t turn your back on allies who have fought and died alongside American troops. You just don’t do that.” But when George Stephanopoulos asked Sunday morning on ABC for Sanders to explain the difference between his and Trump’s approaches, Sanders responded simply that Trump “lies. I don’t.”

Warren’s response was similarly vague. She tweeted that “Trump recklessly betrayed our Kurdish partners” and that “we should bring our troops home, but we need to do so in a way that respects our security.”

Ro Khanna, a Democratic representative from California and co-chair of Sanders’s 2020 campaign, told The Intercept that progressives urgently need to make the case for a “doctrine of responsible withdrawal.”

“I don’t believe that withdrawal from a progressive perspective means a moral indifference to the lives of the places that we leave,” Khanna said in a phone interview. “It’s not an ‘America First’ approach that says our interests and our American lives are the only things that have moral worth. Rather, our withdrawal is based on an understanding of the limitations of American power to shape and restructure societies. It emphasizes the need for effective diplomacy and understands our moral obligations in these places.”

The U.S. should not have withdrawn troops without negotiating a deal that would have kept Turkey from invading Syria, backed by a threat to withhold future arms sales and economic assistance, Khanna told The Intercept. “We could have used all those points of leverage to get their commitment that they wouldn’t slaughter the Kurds.”

Another key difference between Trump’s approach and that of progressives is their level of trust for civil service expertise, Khanna said. “What this shows is that it’s not enough to have a president with certain instincts. Foreign policy requires great expertise. You need a progressive president who understands the importance of military restraint, but who also has the ability to put together an extraordinary foreign policy team to implement the goals that they may have.”

Far from admiring Trump’s approach to Syria, many anti-interventionists and foreign policy experts in D.C. view it as a blueprint for how not to withdraw from a conflict, according to Adam Wunische, a researcher with the Quincy Institute, a new pro-diplomacy, noninterventionist, and nonpartisan think tank.

“What we should have been doing from the very beginning is once we achieved the limited objective of destroying ISIS territory, they should have immediately begun contemplating what kind of peace or settlement could come afterwards,” Wunische told The Intercept. “To my knowledge, the U.S. is one of the only actors that can effectively talk to both the Turks and the Kurds. So they should have been trying to find an acceptable political arrangement for all the parties involved that doesn’t involve an endless, ill-defined military presence for the U.S.”

The Quincy Institute is working on a report outlining a possible plan for U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan that would avoid the type of disorder on display in northeastern Syria, Wunische said, though the timing of the report remains unclear.

Throughout the 2020 Democratic primary campaign, a number of candidates have railed against “endless wars.” But in a conversation that has been defined by intricate domestic policy proposals and detailed outlines of how to structure a wealth tax, candidates have said little about the rest of the world and even less about how they would wind down overseas conflicts.

Sanders, for example, has called for a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan “as expeditiously as possible.” Warren has said “it’s long past time to bring our troops home, and I would begin to do so immediately.” Joe Biden has said he would bring “American combat troops in Afghanistan home during my first term,” but left the door open for a “residual U.S. military presence” that would be “focused on counterterrorism operations.” When asked during a July debate whether he would withdraw from Afghanistan during the first year of his presidency, Pete Buttigieg, the South Bend mayor and Navy Reserve veteran who spent seven months in Afghanistan, answered emphatically in the affirmative.

But aside from seeking a diplomatic solution, candidates have said very little about their policies for ending the war. And as in Syria, stakes for U.S. allies in Afghanistan are high.

A January study by the Rand Corporation found that a “precipitous U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan” would have far-reaching consequences. The legitimacy for the U.S.-backed Kabul government would plummet, the report argued, and the Taliban would extend its control and influence. People all across the country would turn to regional militias and rival warlords for basic security.

“I don’t think that anyone, whether they promise it or not, is going to get out of Afghanistan in a week,” said Wuinsche. “What we need to focus on is, what is the political solution that we think is possible, and how do we get there? That requires marshaling all of these different tools of foreign policy, not just the military.”

Kate Kizer, policy director for the D.C.-based advocacy group Win Without War, stressed that one of the most revealing differences between progressives and Trump is how they would treat a conflict’s refugees. Under Trump, the U.S. has accepted historically low numbers of refugees and closed the door on future Syrian immigrants applying for Temporary Protected Status.

“One of the cruelest parts of Trump’s policy is the fact that, in addition to fueling more bloodshed with this decision, he’s also banning any types of civilians who would be fleeing from the conflict,” Kizer said. “In a situation like Syria and even Afghanistan, there’s a way to responsibly withdraw and then there’s a way to cut and run, which is what Trump has shown he has a predilection for. But I’m not sitting here saying that any type of military withdraw will necessarily be bloodless.”

https://theintercept.com/2019/10/15/syria-troop-withdrawal-trump-democrats/

Story 2: The Search of Leakers in Trump Administration — Videos

RUST NO ONE

Trump Suspects a Spiteful John Bolton Is Behind Some of the Ukraine Leaks

Trump fears the leaks are now coming from the people he chose to serve him—and that only increases the paranoia currently infecting the West Wing.

Photo Illustration by Lyne Lucien/The Daily Beast/Getty

At a critical juncture in his presidency, facing a rapidly unfolding impeachment inquiry by House Democrats, Donald Trump is feeling besieged by snitches.

In recent weeks, numerous leaks have appeared in the pages of The Washington PostThe New York TimesThe Wall Street Journal, and other major papers and news outlets detailing the president’s attempts to enlist foreign leaders to help dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and also aid Trump’s quest to discredit Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s concluded investigation. And as is his MO, the media-obsessed president has been fixated on not just the identity of the whistleblower behind the internal complaint that brought this scandal to the fore, but also on who, exactly, has been namelessly feeding intel to the press.

In the course of casual conversations with advisers and friends, President Trump has privately raised suspicions that a spiteful John Bolton, his notoriously hawkish former national security adviser, could be one of the sources behind the flood of leaks against him, three people familiar with the comments said. At one point, one of those sources recalled, Trump guessed that Bolton was behind one of the anonymous accounts that listed the former national security adviser as one of the top officials most disturbed by the Ukraine-related efforts of Trump and Rudy Giuliani, the president’s personal attorney who remains at the center of activities that spurred the impeachment inquiry.

“[Trump] was clearly implying [it, saying] something to the effect of, ‘Oh, gee, I wonder who the source on that could be,’” this source said, referring to the president’s speculation. Bolton, for his part, told The Daily Beast last month that allegations that he was a leaker in Trump’s midst are “flatly incorrect.”

The former national security adviser—who departed the administration last month on awfulmutually bitter terms—is working on a book about his time serving Trump, and has “a lot to dish,” one knowledgeable source noted.

Neither Bolton nor White House spokespeople provided comment for this story. Matt Schlapp, an influential conservative activist with close ties to the White House, said his assumption was that the leaks were coming from “career folks inside who hate Trump” and that the president and his campaign had “14 months of this” to come. As for Bolton, Schlapp said, “He’s smarter than that, although he does aggressively defend himself.”

Indeed, Bolton’s name surfaced Monday before House impeachment inquiry committees, when Hill reportedly testified that he told her to alert the chief lawyer for the National Security Council that Giuliani was working with Mick Mulvaney, the acting White House chief of staff, on an operation with legal implications, the Times reported late Monday. “I am not part of whatever drug deal Rudy and Mulvaney are cooking up,” Bolton told Hill to tell White House lawyers, according to sources familiar with the testimony.

“I have not spoken to John about [his comments, as conveyed by Hill],” Giuliani told The Daily Beast on Tuesday morning. “John is a longtime friend. I have no idea why John is doing this. My best guess is that he’s confused and bought into a false media narrative without bothering to call me about it.”

Regarding Bolton’s reported comment about Mulvaney being involved in this figurative Ukraine “drug deal,” the former New York City mayor insisted that “Mick wasn’t involved in this. I don’t recall having any lengthy conversation with him about this subject… I don’t recall ever having a lengthy conversation [about Ukraine] with John, either.”

Trump has felt under siege from within before, including at various flashpoints of his presidency. For instance, near the end of the Mueller probe, the president became so distrustful and resentful toward Don McGahn, his own White House counsel at the time, he started asking those close to him, “Is [Don] wearing a wire?”

But the current sense that he has been undermined by people whom he brought into his orbit has come at a critical juncture and colored some of the decisions he has made since the whistleblower complaint became public.  The president has openly declared that the whistleblower committed an act of treason. He has attempted to stop prominent advisers—including Ambassador to the European Union Gordon Sondland, a man who donated $1 million to the Trump inauguration—from testifying to Congress, only to apparently fail. On Monday, Fiona Hill, Trump’s former top adviser on Russia and Europe, was on Capitol Hill, where she reportedly told lawmakers that Sondland and Giuliani circumventedthe standard national-security process on high-profile Ukraine matters. The president has struggled to add to his current legal team, and appeared to begin putting some distance between himself and Giuliani last week.

And when outside allies began to talk about constructing a war room to help with impeachment, Trump shot down the concept, in part out of a sense that he couldn’t rely on them to get the message out right. One top White House aide subsequently labeled the idea an exercise by “outside peeps trying to self-aggrandize.”

The impression left on Republicans is one of a president increasingly driven by paranoia and a desire for insularity—and not, necessarily, to his own benefit.

“There is a certain level of frustration that all the sudden the president says something, then Rudy does, and it is not always consistent. There is a frustration that not everybody knows what they should be doing. It is not that they can’t defend the president it is a frustration that they don’t know exactly how they are supposed to defend the president,” said John Brabender, a longtime GOP consultant. “From the president’s perspective, this whole thing is a witch hunt and is outrageous and, therefore, it shouldn’t even need explanation…But with that said, you can’t just be angry. You need a unified communications team.”

According to those who’ve known the president, the sense that a good chunk of the government has never fully accepted his presidency and has actively worked to undermine it has animated much of his activity over the past few weeks. And though they believe he has a point, they also wonder if it is making him functionally incapable of taking the advice of some advisers: to simply ignore impeachment and apply his attention to other facets of governance.

Trump, they add, is preternaturally incapable of ignoring press about him and lingers particularly on leaks that depict atmospherics of his inner sanctum, the West Wing, and his internal well-being.

“In my experience, what he despises is somebody writing that Donald Trump feels under siege and his emotions are this and his thinking is this,” said Sam Nunberg, a former Trump campaign aide. “He hates people saying what he is thinking… And one of his most frequent tricks in terms of talking about himself on background [as an anonymous source] is him having the reporter say [he is] someone ‘familiar with the president’s thinking.’”

Nunberg said he had yet to see a blind quote in any recent report that would lead him to believe that Trump is cold-calling reporters. But the president is certainly working the fourth estate. Democratic aides were left shaking their heads last week when they received an email from the White House with the subject line, “Article from President Trump” and a PDF attachment of a Kimberly Strassel Wall Street Journal column.

“He’s apparently so anxious about GOP support in the Senate, he’s taken to sending WSJ columns against the House inquiry,” said a Senate source.

Still, for all of Trump’s grousing and preoccupation with who is and isn’t stabbing him in the back, loyalty has always been a one-way street for this president. Last week, after the news broke that Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Soviet-born businessmen tied to Giuliani, were arrested on charges of violating campaign-finance law, a reporter at the White House asked Trump if the former New York mayor was still his personal attorney. The president responded that he didn’t know.

Though the president would later tweet out his support for Giuliani over the weekend, Trump has a long track record for being loyal to and supportive of a longtime associate, friend, or staffer—up until the moment he’s not. Perhaps the quintessential example of this is that of one of the president’s former attorneys, Michael Cohen, who famously turned on Trump after becoming convinced that the president had abandoned him while he was in the crosshairs of federal prosecutors.

Asked by The Daily Beast last week if the president told him that he still had his lawyer’s back—an attorney who further earned the president’s trust by defending Trump during the Mueller investigation—Giuliani let out a big belly-laugh and responded, “There’s nothing, [no knife], in my back.”

“My back feels very comfortable right now,” he added.

https://www.thedailybeast.com/trump-suspects-a-spiteful-john-bolton-is-behind-ukraine-leaks

Story 3: Democrats Goal of Replacing Your Employer Provided Health Care Cover With Higher Taxes for Medicare For All — Socialized Medicine — Videos —

 

See the source image

See the source image

Medicare For All: What Does it Actually Mean?

DEBUNKED: Medicare for All MYTHS! | Louder With Crowder

Story 4: President Trump Congratulates The St.Louis Blues For Winning The Stanley Cup — Videos —

Trump welcomes the Stanley Cup Champions to WH

President Trump Welcomes the St. Louis Blues Stanley Cup Champions

Trump welcomes 2019 Stanley Cup champions to White House

Trump welcomes the St. Louis Blues to the White House

WATCH: Trump hosts NHL champions St. Louis Blues at the White House

 

St. Louis Blues visit the White House after Stanley Cup win

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The Pronk Pops Show 1340, October 14, 2019, Story 1: President Trump Retaliates Against Turkey’s Invasion of Syria by Imposing Economic Tariffs on Steel — Videos — Story 2: Amazing Grace of Attorney General’s Defense of Religious Freedom — Videos — Story 3: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos

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Pronk Pops Show 1283 July 1, 2019See the source imageOpinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists04-no-justice-hearing-li-600.jpg (600×429)See the source imageSee the source imageSee the source image

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Story 1: President Trump Retaliates Against Turkey’s Invasion of Syria by Imposing Economic Tariffs on Steel — Videos —

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The Kurds: The Most Famous Unknown People in the World | Stephen Mansfield | TEDxNashville

The Kurds are an ancient and noble people who are now the primary “boots on the ground” against ISIS in the Middle East. They are 35 million strong worldwide, the largest people group on earth without their own homeland. In this stirring talk, Stephen Mansfield tells the story of the Kurds and does so, surprisingly, through the lives of three women. Stephen Mansfield is a New York Times bestselling author who first rose to global attention with his groundbreaking book, The Faith of George W. Bush, a bestseller that Time magazine credited with helping to shape the 2004 U.S. presidential election. He has written celebrated biographies of Barak Obama, Booker T. Washington, George Whitefield, Winston Churchill, Pope Benedict XVI, and Abraham Lincoln, among others. Mansfield’s latest book, The Miracle of the Kurds, is a timely introduction to the Kurdish people that reached bookstores just as Kurdish troops began standing heroically against the evils of ISIS in the Middle East. The book has been named “Book of the Year” by Rudaw, the leading Kurdish news service. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at http://ted.com/tedx

Donald Trump vows to ‘obliterate’ Turkey’s economy if there’s ‘inhumane’ treatment of Kurds in Syria

President Trump answers questions about Syria, Turkey

Erdogan asks Arab League: ‘How many Syrians did you accept?’

Turkish forces clash with Kurdish fighters in Syria – BBC News

Graham rips ex-Obama officials’ criticism of Trump’s Syria pullout

Defense Secretary Esper defends Trump’s removal of troops from Northern Syria

Rand Paul slams GOP ‘war caucus’ criticizing Trump for Syria

Why are Americans surprised Trump withdrew troops from Syria?: Gaetz

After Trump Abandoned Kurds, Turkish Invasion Raises Fear of Kurdish Genocide & ISIS Resurgence

What is the Armenian Genocide?

An Armenian Genocide Survivor’s Story | Lucine Z. Kinoian | TEDxBergenCommunityCollege

Armenian genocide: survivors recall events 100 years on

Donald Trump says he is poised to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Erdogan continues military onslaught in Syria – as unrest helps nearly 800 ISIS brides and their children escape from a camp

  • President Trump said Sunday morning that he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey 
  • On Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area 
  • This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria
  • On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia
  • Syrian troops have been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive
  • Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing on Twitter that it’s ‘very smart not to be involved’ in the fighting on the Turkish border
  • More than 130,000 people have been displaced from northeast Syrian border towns as a result of fighting between Turkish-led forces and Kurdish militia 

President Trump says he is in talks with members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey as Turkish President Erdogan continues his attacks on Kurdish militia just one week after Trump pulled U.S. troops from the area.

‘Dealing with @LindseyGrahamSC and many members of Congress, including Democrats, about imposing powerful Sanctions on Turkey,’ Trump said in a tweet Sunday morning. ‘Treasury is ready to go, additional legislation may be sought. There is great consensus on this. Turkey has asked that it not be done. Stay tuned!’

This comes as nearly 800 women affiliated with ISIS and their children fled from a camp where they were being held in northern Syria after a shelling by Turkish forces, the region’s Kurdish-led administration said Sunday. Syrian troops have now been dispatched to the north to face Turkish offensive.

Trump said Saturday that in response to the Turkish invasion, the U.S. will send $50million in emergency financial aid to Syria.

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump announced Saturday night that he will send $50million in financial aid to Syria one week after pulling U.S. troops from the area

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose 'powerful sanctions' on Turkey

President Trump says he is in talks with both members of congress to impose ‘powerful sanctions’ on Turkey

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for 'WORLD PEACE!'

Trump then tweeted that the U.S. is using its power for ‘WORLD PEACE!’

The Kurdish-led administration said 785 foreigners affiliated with ISIS escaped Ain Issa (pictured), north of Raqqa, where they were being held following Turkish shelling today

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to picture people running away from the Ain Issa

The money will be sent to assist human rights groups and other organizations to ‘protect persecuted ethnic and religious minorities and advance human rights,’ according to a statement released Saturday night by the Office of the Press Secretary.

Trump spoke of the $50million in aid while at the Values Voters Summit’s Faith, family and Freedom gala dinner Saturday night.

‘Other presidents would not be doing that, they’d be spending a lot more money but on things that wouldn’t make you happy,’ he said. ‘The U.S. condemns the persecution of Christians and we pledge our support to Christians all over.’

The statement by the Office of the Press Secretary says the aid money ‘will also go toward increased accountability, removal of explosive remnants of war, community security for stabilization assistance, documenting human rights abuses and international humanitarian law violations, and support for survivors of gender-based violence and torture.

‘We hope regional and international partners will continue their contributions as well. ‘Ensuring the freedom and safety of ethnic and religious minorities remains a top priority for this Administration.’

On Sunday, President Trump defended his decision to pull U.S. troops from Northern Syria, leaving the America’s Kurdish allies to a Turkish invasion, calling it ‘very smart’ for the U.S. to ‘not be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change.’

‘Those that mistakenly got us into the Middle East Wars are still pushing to fight.They have no idea what a bad decision they have made. Why are they not asking for a Declaration of War?’ he added.

‘Do you remember two years ago when Iraq was going to fight the Kurds in a different part of Syria. Many people wanted us to fight with the Kurds against Iraq, who we just fought for. I said no, and the Kurds left the fight, twice. Now the same thing is happening with Turkey….’ he wrote.

‘The Kurds and Turkey have been fighting for many years. Turkey considers the PKK the worst terrorists of all. Others may want to come in and fight for one side or the other. Let them! We are monitoring the situation closely. Endless Wars!’

On Sunday, Syrian Kurdish officials said they will work with Assad forces to repel Turkish offensive and to liberate areas held by Turkey.

Also on Sunday, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said that Turkey ‘appears to be ‘ committing war crimes in northern Syria.

‘It’s a very terrible situation over there, a situation caused by the Turks. Despite our opposition, they decided to make this incursion,’ Esper said on CBS’s Face the Nation.

Turkey-backed rebels capture city from Kurdish control

On Sunday Trump continued to defend his decision to pull U.S. troops from Syria, writing: 'Very smart not to be involved in the intense fighting along the Turkish Border, for a change'

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

President Trump continued to double down on his decision to abandon the Kurds

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Ankara launched the cross-border assault against the YPG militia after US President Donald Trump withdrew troops from the border region. Pictured: Map shows Tel Abyad and Ras al Ain (Sari Kani) near Raqqa

Mortar shells land on Turkish side of border with Syria

The Kurdish-led administration said in a statement Sunday that 785 ISIS-affiliated foreigners had fled a camp at Ain Issa.

In an apparent reference to Turkish-backed rebels, the Kurdish-led administration said ‘mercenaries’ attacked the camp where ‘Daesh elements’ – a reference to Islamic State – in turn attacked camp guards and opened the gates.

Images shared by the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to show people running away from the camp.

Turkey’s cross-border attack in northern Syria against Kurdish forces widened to target the town of Suluk which was hit by Ankara’s Syrian rebel allies. There were conflicting accounts on the outcome of the fighting.

Turkey is now facing threats of possible sanctions from the U.S. unless it calls off the incursion.

Two of its NATO allies, Germany and France, have said they are halting weapons exports to Turkey. The Arab League has denounced the operation.

France also said today it was ‘worried’ to hear of the report that hundreds of relatives of foreign jihadists had escaped.

‘Of course we are worried about what could happen and that is why we want Turkey… to end as quickly as possible the intervention it has begun,’ government spokeswoman Sibeth Ndiaye told France 3 television.

Turkey-backed Syrian forces continue Syrian Kurdish fighters assault

On Sunday, Turkey targeted two border towns with shelling, continuing with the fight against Kurdish militia

On Saturday, Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis warned that ISIS will ‘absolutely come back’ with the removal of U.S. troops from Syria.

‘ISIS is not defeated. We have got to keep the pressure on ISIS so they don’t recover,’ Mattis told Chuck Todd on Meet The Press when asked if President Trump made the right decision by pulling troops from Northern Syria last week.

‘It’s in a situation of disarray right now,’ Mattis, who resigned as Secretary of Defense in January, said of the situation between Turkey and Syria. ‘Obviously the Kurds are adapting to the Turkish attacks. We’ll have to see if they can maintain the fight against ISIS. It’s going to have an impact. The question is how much.

‘We may want a war over; we may even declare it over. You can pull your troops out as President Obama learned the hard way out of Iraq, but the ”enemy gets the vote”, we say in the military. And in this case, if we don’t keep the pressure on, then ISIS will resurge. It’s absolutely a given that they will come back.’

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7568101/Trump-sends-50million-emergency-financial-assistance-Syria.html

David E. Sanger
Syrian army returns to northeast, as Turkey widens invasion
President Trump’s acquiescence to Turkey’s move to send troops deep inside Syrian territory has in only one week’s time turned into a bloody carnage, forced the abandonment of a successful five-year-long American project to keep the peace on a volatile border, and given an unanticipated victory to four American adversaries: Russia, Iran, the Syrian government and the Islamic State.

Rarely has a presidential decision resulted so immediately in what his own party leaders have described as disastrous consequences for American allies and interests. How this decision happened — springing from an “off-script moment” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, in the words of a senior American diplomat — likely will be debated for years by historians, Middle East experts and conspiracy theorists.

But this much already is clear: Mr. Trump ignored months of warnings from his advisers about what calamities likely would ensue if he followed his instincts to pull back from Syria and abandon America’s longtime allies, the Kurds. He had no Plan B, other than to leave. The only surprise is how swiftly it all collapsed around the president and his depleted, inexperienced foreign policy team.

Day after day, they have been caught off-guard, offering up differing explanations of what Mr. Trump said to Mr. Erdogan, how the United States and its allies might respond, and even whether Turkey remains an American ally. For a while Mr. Trump said he acted because the Islamic State was already defeated, and because he was committed to terminating “endless wars” by pulling American troops out of the Middle East. By the end of the week he added 2,000 — to Saudi Arabia.

One day he was inviting Mr. Erdogan to visit the White House; the next he was threatening to “totally destroy and obliterate” Turkey’s economy if it crossed a line that he never defined.

Mr. Erdogan just kept going.

Mr. Trump’s error, some aides concede in off-the-record conversations, was entering the Oct. 6 call underprepared, and then failing to spell out for Mr. Erdogan the potential consequences — from economic sanctions to a dimunition of Turkey’s alliance with the United States and its standing in NATO. He has since threatened both, retroactively. But it is not clear Mr. Erdogan believes either is a real risk.The drama is nowhere near over. Out of necessity, the Kurds switched sides on Sunday, turning their backs on Washington and signing up with President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, a man the United States has called a war criminal for gassing his own people. At the Pentagon, officials struggled with the right response if Turkish forces — NATO allies — again opened fire on any of the 1,000 or so Americans now preparing to retreat from their positions inside Syria. Those troops are trapped for now, since Turkey has cut off the roads; removing them may require an airlift.

And over the weekend, State and Energy Department officials were quietly reviewing plans for evacuating roughly 50 tactical nuclear weapons that the United States had long stored, under American control, at Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, about 250 miles from the Syrian border, according to two American officials.

Those weapons, one senior official said, were now essentially Erdogan’s hostages. To fly them out of Incirlik would be to mark the de facto end of the Turkish-American alliance. To keep them there, though, is to perpetuate a nuclear vulnerability that should have been eliminated years ago.

“I think this is a first — a country with U.S. nuclear weapons stationed in it literally firing artillery at US forces,” Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies wrote last week.

For his part, Mr. Erdogan claims nuclear ambitions of his own: Only a month ago, speaking to supporters, he said, he said he “cannot accept” rules that keep Turkey from possessing nuclear weapons of its own.

“There is no developed nation in the world that doesn’t have them,” he said. (In fact, most do not.)

“This president keeps blindsiding our military and diplomatic leaders and partners with impulsive moves like this that benefit Russia and authoritarian regimes,” said Senator Jack Reed, the Rhode Island Democrat and longtime member of the Armed Services Committee.

“If this president were serious about ending wars and winning peace, he’d actually articulate a strategy that would protect against a re-emergence of ISIS and provide for the safety of our Syrian partners,” Mr. Reed added. “But he has repeatedly failed to do that. Instead, this is another example of Donald Trump creating chaos, undermining U.S. interests, and benefitting Russia and the Assad regime.”

The other major beneficiary is Iran, perhaps Mr. Trump’s most talked-about geo-political foe, which has long supported the Syrian regime and sought freer rein across the country.

But none of that appeared to have been anticipated by Mr. Trump, who has no fondness for briefing books and meetings in the Situation Room intended to game out events two or three moves ahead. Instead, he often talks about the trusting his instincts.

“My gut tells me more sometimes than anybody else’s brain can ever tell me,” he said late last year. He was discussing the Federal Reserve, but could just as easily been talking foreign policy; in 2017 he told a reporter, right after his first meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, that it was his “gut feel” for how to deal with foreign leaders, honed over years in the real estate world, that guided him. “Foreign policy is what I’ll be remembered for,” he said.

But in this case the failure to look around corners has blown up on him at a speed that is rare in foreign policy and national security. The closest analogue may date back to 1950, during Harry Truman’s administration, when Secretary of State Dean Acheson described America’s new “defense perimeter” in a speech, saying it ran from southern Japan through the Philippines. That left out the Korean Peninsula, and two weeks later Joseph Stalin, the Soviet leader, appeared to have given Kim Il-sung, grandfather of the current North Korean leader, permission to launch his invasion of the South. The bloody stalemate that followed lives with the United States today.

At the time, the United States kept a token force in South Korea, akin to the one parked along the Turkish-Syrian border. And it is impossible to know whether the North Korean attack would have been launched even without Mr. Acheson’s failure to warn about American action if a vulnerable ally was attacked — just as it is impossible to know if Mr. Erdogan would have sent his troops over the border if that phone call, and Mr. Trump’s failure to object, had never happened.

It was Mr. Trump himself who, during a presidential debate with Hillary Clinton in 2016, blamed President Barack Obama for a similar error. “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq,” he said, referring to the 2011 withdrawal. “They shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.”

Even his allies see the parallel. “If I didn’t see Donald Trump’s name on the tweet I thought it would be Obama’s rationale for getting out of Iraq,” Senator Lindsey Graham, one of Mr. Trump’s most vociferous defenders in recent years, but among his harshest Republican critics for the Syria decision, said last week.

As James F. Jeffrey, who worked for Mr. Obama as ambassador to Turkey, then to Iraq, and now serves as Mr. Trump’s special envoy for Syria, noted several years ago, it’s debatable whether events would have played out differently if the United States had stayed in Iraq.

Could a residual force have prevented ISIS’s victories?” he asked in a Wall Street Journal essay five years ago. “With troops we would have had better intelligence on al Qaeda in Iraq and later ISIS, a more attentive Washington, and no doubt a better-trained Iraqi army. But the common argument that U.S. troops could have produced different Iraqi political outcomes is hogwash. The Iraqi sectarian divides, which ISIS exploited, run deep and were not susceptible to permanent remedy by our troops at their height, let alone by 5,000 trainers under Iraqi restraints.”

Mr. Trump may now be left to make the same argument about Syria: That nothing could have stopped Mr. Erdogan, that the Russians would benefit in any case, that there are other ways to push back at Iran. Perhaps history will side with him.

For now, however, he has given up most of what little leverage he had.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/trump-followed-his-gut-on-syria-calamity-came-fast/ar-AAILbg6#image=AAIqEBq|9

Story 3: Behind Closed Doors Single Party Impeachment Inquiry Kangaroo Court Bars Other Representatives From Listening To Testimony — Videos

Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz kicked out of impeachment inquiry hearing

Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., an ardent supporter of President Trump, got the boot on Monday when he tried to sit in on the testimony of a former top National Security Council expert on Russia who was appearing on Capitol Hill as part of the House impeachment inquiry into the president.

Gaetz, who sits on the House Judiciary Committee, attempted to attend the testimony of Fiona Hill, a former deputy assistant to the president, but was told that because he was not a member of the House Intelligence Committee that he had to leave. The House Intelligence, Oversight and Foreign Affairs committees are conducting the impeachment inquiry into Trump.

A frustrated Gaetz aired his disappointment to reporters after being told he was not allowed to sit in on the hearing, venting his anger over what he says are “selective leaks” by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff, D-Calif., and questioning why he was not allowed to be present during Hill’s testimony. Gaetz added that the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., was involved in the impeachment inquiry.

“It’s not like I’m on agriculture,” Gaetz said. “What are the Democrats so afraid of?”

Gaetz followed up his comments with a tweet calling the impeachment inquiry a kangaroo court and using one of Trump’s favorite nicknames for the intelligence committee chairman, “Shifty Schiff.”

“Judiciary Chairman [Jerry Nadler] claimed to have begun the impeachment inquiry weeks ago,” Gaetz tweeted. “Now, his own Judiciary members aren’t even allowed to participate in it. And yes – my constituents want me actively involved in stopping the #KangarooCourtCoup run by Shifty Schiff.”

Other Republicans closely aligned with Trump continued on Monday to complain about Schiff and his handling of the impeachment inquiry – with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, also lambasting the California Democrat for excluding some congressional Republicans from the testimonies and for leaking “cherry-picked” information from the closed-door hearings to the press.

“She was going to come voluntarily but he’s going to subpoena her I believe so he can ask certain questions and again keep those secret except for the certain things that he wants to leak, the cherry-picked information to the American people,” Jordan said of Schiff before Hill’s testimony.

TRUMP SAYS OBAMA ‘HIDING’ FROM QUESTIONS ABOUT BIDENS AND UKRAINE: ‘I THINK HE KNOWS ALL ABOUT IT’

Lee Wolosky, Hill’s attorney, tweeted on Monday that the former deputy assistant to the president had received a congressional subpoena.

“The tragedy here and the crime here is that the American people don’t get to see what’s going on in these up in these sessions,” Jordan said.

Hill’s testimony comes ahead of a planned Thursday appearance by Gordon Sondland, Trump’s hand-picked ambassador to the European Union, and follows the revelation of a cache of text messages from top envoys that provide a vivid account of their work acting as intermediaries around the time Trump urged Ukraine’s new president, Volodymr Zelenskiy, to start investigations into a company linked to the family of a chief Democratic presidential rival, Joe Biden.

Sondland is set to tell lawmakers that he did understand the administration was offering Zelenskiy a White House visit in exchange for a public statement committing to investigations Trump wanted, according to the person, who demanded anonymity to discuss remarks not yet given.

But Sondland will say he did not know the company being talked about for an investigation, Burisma, was tied to Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, the person said. Sondland understood the discussions about combating corruption to be part of a much broader and publicized Trump administration push that was widely shared, the person said.

 

One witness who may not be called before Congress is the still anonymous government whistleblower who touched off the impeachment inquiry. Top Democrats say testimony and evidence coming in from other witnesses, and even the president himself, are backing up the whistleblower’s account of what transpired during Trump’s July 25 phone call with Zelenskiy.

Lawmakers have also grown deeply concerned about protecting the person from Trump’s threats over the matter and may not wish to risk exposing the whistleblower’s identity.

Schiff said Sunday, “We don’t need the whistleblower, who wasn’t on the call, to tell us what took place during the call. We have the best evidence of that.” He added it “may not be necessary” to reveal the whistleblower’s identity as the House gathers evidence.

“Our primary interest right now is making sure that that person is protected,” Schiff said.

https://www.foxnews.com/politics/republican-rep-matt-gaetz-kicked-out-of-impeachment-inquiry-hearing

Story 2: Amazing Grace of Attorney General’s Defense of Religious Liberty — Videos

AG William Barr Nails The Destruction OF America’s Morality by “Militant Secularism”

US Attorney General William Barr – Notre Dame Speech

Why Has the West Been So Successful?

1. I Am the Lord Your God

2. No Other Gods

Religious Tolerance: Made in America

Were the Founders Religious?

Was America Founded to Be Secular?

Why We’re Losing Liberty

The World’s Most Persecuted Minority: Christians

Where Are the Moderate Muslims?

Pakistan: Can Sharia and Freedom Coexist?

Radical Islam: The Most Dangerous Ideology

America’s Biggest Issues: Religious Freedom

The Left Ruins Everything

Was Jesus a Socialist?

Who Does the Media Most Want to Silence?

Why No One Trusts the Mainstream Media

Jordan Peterson on the Belief in God

Who Dares Say He Believes in God?

On Claiming Belief In God: Discussion with Dennis Prager

“Global Call to Protect Religious Freedom” with Donald Trump & Others (Opening)

Donald Trump makes speech to the UN general assembly

The Blaine Amendments: State Constitutions & School Choice

Blaine Amendments and “Sectarian” explained

Will the Supreme Court Strike Down the Blaine Amendment?

Attorney General William P. Barr Delivers Remarks to the Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture at the University of Notre Dame

South Bend, IN

~

Friday, October 11, 2019

Remarks as prepared for delivery

Thank you, Tom, for your kind introduction. Bill and Roger, it’s great to be with you.

Thank you to the Notre Dame Law School and the de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture for graciously extending an invitation to address you today. I’d also like to express gratitude to Tony de Nicola, whose generous support has shaped – and continues to shape – countless minds through examination of the Catholic moral and intellectual tradition.

Today, I would like to share some thoughts with you about religious liberty in America. It’s an important priority in this Administration and for this Department of Justice.

We have set up a task force within the Department with different components that have equities in this area, including the Solicitor General’s Office, the Civil Division, the Office of Legal Counsel, and other offices. We have regular meetings. We keep an eye out for cases or events around the country where states are misapplying the Establishment Clause in a way that discriminates against people of faith, or cases where states adopt laws that impinge upon the free exercise of religion.

From the Founding Era onward, there was strong consensus about the centrality of religious liberty in the United States.

The imperative of protecting religious freedom was not just a nod in the direction of piety. It reflects the Framers’ belief that religion was indispensable to sustaining our free system of government.

In his renowned 1785 pamphlet, “Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments,” James Madison described religious liberty as “a right towards men” but “a duty towards the Creator,” and a “duty….precedent both in order of time and degree of obligation, to the claims of Civil Society.”

It has been over 230 years since that small group of colonial lawyers led a revolution and launched what they viewed as a great experiment, establishing a society fundamentally different than those that had gone before.

They crafted a magnificent charter of freedom – the United States Constitution – which provides for limited government, while leaving “the People” broadly at liberty to pursue our lives both as individuals and through free associations.

This quantum leap in liberty has been the mainspring of unprecedented human progress, not only for Americans, but for people around the world.

In the 20th century, our form of free society faced a severe test.

There had always been the question whether a democracy so solicitous of individual freedom could stand up against a regimented totalitarian state.

That question was answered with a resounding “yes” as the United States stood up against and defeated, first fascism, and then communism.

But in the 21st century, we face an entirely different kind of challenge.

The challenge we face is precisely what the Founding Fathers foresaw would be our supreme test as a free society.

They never thought the main danger to the republic came from external foes. The central question was whether, over the long haul, we could handle freedom. The question was whether the citizens in such a free society could maintain the moral discipline and virtue necessary for the survival of free institutions.

By and large, the Founding generation’s view of human nature was drawn from the classical Christian tradition.

These practical statesmen understood that individuals, while having the potential for great good, also had the capacity for great evil.

Men are subject to powerful passions and appetites, and, if unrestrained, are capable of ruthlessly riding roughshod over their neighbors and the community at large.

No society can exist without some means for restraining individual rapacity.

But, if you rely on the coercive power of government to impose restraints, this will inevitably lead to a government that is too controlling, and you will end up with no liberty, just tyranny.

On the other hand, unless you have some effective restraint, you end up with something equally dangerous – licentiousness – the unbridled pursuit of personal appetites at the expense of the common good. This is just another form of tyranny – where the individual is enslaved by his appetites, and the possibility of any healthy community life crumbles.

Edmund Burke summed up this point in his typically colorful language:

“Men are qualified for civil liberty, in exact proportion to their disposition to put chains upon their appetites…. Society cannot exist unless a controlling power be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without. It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things that men intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

So the Founders decided to take a gamble. They called it a great experiment.

They would leave “the People” broad liberty, limit the coercive power of the government, and place their trust in self-discipline and the virtue of the American people.

In the words of Madison, “We have staked our future on the ability of each of us to govern ourselves…”

This is really what was meant by “self-government.” It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.

But what was the source of this internal controlling power? In a free republic, those restraints could not be handed down from above by philosopher kings.

Instead, social order must flow up from the people themselves – freely obeying the dictates of inwardly-possessed and commonly-shared moral values. And to control willful human beings, with an infinite capacity to rationalize, those moral values must rest on authority independent of men’s will – they must flow from a transcendent Supreme Being.

In short, in the Framers’ view, free government was only suitable and sustainable for a religious people – a people who recognized that there was a transcendent moral order antecedent to both the state and man-made law and who had the discipline to control themselves according to those enduring principles.

As John Adams put it, “We have no government armed with the power which is capable of contending with human passions unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate for the government of any other.”

As Father John Courtney Murray observed, the American tenet was notthat:

“Free government is inevitable, only that it is possible, and that its possibility can be realized only when the people as a whole are inwardly governed by the recognized imperatives of the universal moral order.”

How does religion promote the moral discipline and virtue needed to support free government?

First, it gives us the right rules to live by. The Founding generation were Christians. They believed that the Judeo-Christian moral system corresponds to the true nature of man. Those moral precepts start with the two great commandments – to Love God with your whole heart, soul, and mind; and to Love Thy Neighbor as Thyself.

But they also include the guidance of natural law – a real, transcendent moral order which flows from God’s eternal law – the divine wisdom by which the whole of creation is ordered. The eternal law is impressed upon, and reflected in, all created things.

From the nature of things we can, through reason, experience, discern standards of right and wrong that exist independent of human will.

Modern secularists dismiss this idea of morality as other-worldly superstition imposed by a kill-joy clergy. In fact, Judeo-Christian moral standards are the ultimate utilitarian rules for human conduct.

They reflect the rules that are best for man, not in the by and by, but in the here and now. They are like God’s instruction manual for the best running of man and human society.

By the same token, violations of these moral laws have bad, real-world consequences for man and society. We may not pay the price immediately, but over time the harm is real.

Religion helps promote moral discipline within society. Because man is fallen, we don’t automatically conform ourselves to moral rules even when we know they are good for us.

But religion helps teach, train, and habituate people to want what is good. It does not do this primarily by formal laws – that is, through coercion. It does this through moral education and by informing society’s informal rules – its customs and traditions which reflect the wisdom and experience of the ages.

In other words, religion helps frame moral culture within society that instills and reinforces moral discipline.

I think we all recognize that over the past 50 years religion has been under increasing attack.

On the one hand, we have seen the steady erosion of our traditional Judeo-Christian moral system and a comprehensive effort to drive it from the public square.

On the other hand, we see the growing ascendancy of secularism and the doctrine of moral relativism.

By any honest assessment, the consequences of this moral upheaval have been grim.

Virtually every measure of social pathology continues to gain ground.

In 1965, the illegitimacy rate was eight percent. In 1992, when I was last Attorney General, it was 25 percent. Today it is over 40 percent. In many of our large urban areas, it is around 70 percent.

Along with the wreckage of the family, we are seeing record levels of depression and mental illness, dispirited young people, soaring suicide rates, increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males, an increase in senseless violence, and a deadly drug epidemic.

As you all know, over 70,000 people die a year from drug overdoses. That is more casualities in a year than we experienced during the entire Vietnam War.

I will not dwell on all the bitter results of the new secular age. Suffice it to say that the campaign to destroy the traditional moral order has brought with it immense suffering, wreckage, and misery. And yet, the forces of secularism, ignoring these tragic results, press on with even greater militancy.

Among these militant secularists are many so-called “progressives.” But where is the progress?

We are told we are living in a post-Christian era. But what has replaced the Judeo-Christian moral system? What is it that can fill the spiritual void in the hearts of the individual person? And what is a system of values that can sustain human social life?

The fact is that no secular creed has emerged capable of performing the role of religion.

Scholarship suggests that religion has been integral to the development and thriving of Homo sapiens since we emerged roughly 50,000 years ago. It is just for the past few hundred years we have experimented in living without religion.

We hear much today about our humane values. But, in the final analysis, what undergirds these values? What commands our adherence to them?

What we call “values” today are really nothing more than mere sentimentality, still drawing on the vapor trails of Christianity.

Now, there have been times and places where the traditional moral order has been shaken.

In the past, societies – like the human body – seem to have a self-healing mechanism – a self-correcting mechanism that gets things back on course if things go too far.

The consequences of moral chaos become too pressing. The opinion of decent people rebels. They coalesce and rally against obvious excess. Periods of moral entrenchment follow periods of excess.

This is the idea of the pendulum. We have all thought that after a while the “pendulum will swing back.”

But today we face something different that may mean that we cannot count on the pendulum swinging back.

First is the force, fervor, and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today. This is not decay; it is organized destruction. Secularists, and their allies among the “progressives,” have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.

These instruments are used not only to affirmatively promote secular orthodoxy, but also drown out and silence opposing voices, and to attack viciously and hold up to ridicule any dissenters.

One of the ironies, as some have observed, is that the secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor. It is taking on all the trappings of a religion, including inquisitions and excommunication.

Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake – social, educational, and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.

The pervasiveness and power of our high-tech popular culture fuels apostasy in another way. It provides an unprecedented degree of distraction.

Part of the human condition is that there are big questions that should stare us in the face. Are we created or are we purely material accidents? Does our life have any meaning or purpose? But, as Blaise Pascal observed, instead of grappling with these questions, humans can be easily distracted from thinking about the “final things.”

Indeed, we now live in the age of distraction where we can envelop ourselves in a world of digital stimulation and universal connectivity. And we have almost limitless ways of indulging all our physical appetites.

There is another modern phenomenon that suppresses society’s self-corrective mechanisms – that makes it harder for society to restore itself.

In the past, when societies are threatened by moral chaos, the overall social costs of licentiousness and irresponsible personal conduct becomes so high that society ultimately recoils and reevaluates the path that it is on.

But today – in the face of all the increasing pathologies – instead of addressing the underlying cause, we have the State in the role of alleviator of bad fconsequences. We call on the State to mitigate the social costs of personal misconduct and irresponsibility.

So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion.

The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites.

The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the State to set itself up as the ersatz husband for single mothers and the ersatz father to their children.

The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with the wreckage. While we think we are solving problems, we are underwriting them.

We start with an untrammeled freedom and we end up as dependents of a coercive state on which we depend.

Interestingly, this idea of the State as the alleviator of bad consequences has given rise to a new moral system that goes hand-in-hand with the secularization of society.  It can be called the system of “macro-morality.”  It is in some ways an inversion of Christian morality.

Christianity teaches a micro-morality. We transform the world by focusing on our own personal morality and transformation.

The new secular religion teaches macro-morality. One’s morality is not gauged by their private conduct, but rather on their commitment to political causes and collective action to address social problems.

This system allows us to not worry so much about the strictures on our private lives, while we find salvation on the picket-line. We can signal our finely-tuned moral sensibilities by demonstrating for this cause or that.

Something happened recently that crystalized the difference between these moral systems. I was attending Mass at a parish I did not usually go to in Washington, D.C.  At the end of Mass, the Chairman of the Social Justice Committee got up to give his report to the parish. He pointed to the growing homeless problem in D.C. and explained that more mobile soup kitchens were needed to feed them. This being a Catholic church, I expected him to call for volunteers to go out and provide this need. Instead, he recounted all the visits that the Committee had made to the D.C. government to lobby for higher taxes and more spending to fund mobile soup kitchen.

A third phenomenon which makes it difficult for the pendulum to swing back is the way law is being used as a battering ram to break down traditional moral values and to establish moral relativism as a new orthodoxy.

Law is being used as weapon in a couple of ways.

First, either through legislation but more frequently through judicial interpretation, secularists have been continually seeking to eliminate laws that reflect traditional moral norms.

At first, this involved rolling back laws that prohibited certain kinds of conduct. Thus, the watershed decision legalizing abortion. And since then, the legalization of euthanasia. The list goes on.

More recently, we have seen the law used aggressively to force religious people and entities to subscribe to practices and policies that are antithetical to their faith.

The problem is not that religion is being forced on others. The problem is that irreligion and secular values are being forced on people of faith.

This reminds me of how some Roman emperors could not leave their loyal Christian subjects in peace but would mandate that they violate their conscience by offering religious sacrifice to the emperor as a god.

Similarly, militant secularists today do not have a live and let live spirit – they are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take a delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.

For example, the last Administration sought to force religious employers, including Catholic religious orders, to violate their sincerely held religious views by funding contraceptive and abortifacient coverage in their health plans. Similarly, California has sought to require pro-life pregnancy centers to provide notices of abortion rights.

This refusal to accommodate the free exercise of religion is relatively recent. Just 25 years ago, there was broad consensus in our society that our laws should accommodate religious belief.

In 1993, Congress passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act – RFRA. The purpose of the statute was to promote maximum accommodation to religion when the government adopted broad policies that could impinge on religious practice.

At the time, RFRA was not controversial. It was introduced by Chuck Schumer with 170 cosponsors in the House, and was introduced by Ted Kennedy and Orrin Hatch with 59 additional cosponsors in the Senate. It passed by voice vote in the House and by a vote of 97-3 in the Senate.

Recently, as the process of secularization has accelerated, RFRA has come under assault, and the idea of religious accommodation has fallen out of favor.

Because this Administration firmly supports accommodation of religion, the battleground has shifted to the states. Some state governments are now attempting to compel religious individuals and entities to subscribe to practices, or to espouse viewpoints, that are incompatible with their religion.

Ground zero for these attacks on religion are the schools. To me, this is the most serious challenge to religious liberty.

For anyone who has a religious faith, by far the most important part of exercising that faith is the teaching of that religion to our children. The passing on of the faith. There is no greater gift we can give our children and no greater expression of love.

For the government to interfere in that process is a monstrous invasion of religious liberty.

Yet here is where the battle is being joined, and I see the secularists are attacking on three fronts.

The first front relates to the content of public school curriculum. Many states are adopting curriculum that is incompatible with traditional religious principles according to which parents are attempting to raise their children. They often do so without any opt out for religious families.

Thus, for example, New Jersey recently passed a law requiring public schools to adopt an LGBT curriculum that many feel is inconsistent with traditional Christian teaching. Similar laws have been passed in California and Illinois. And the Orange County Board of Education in California issued an opinion that “parents who disagree with the instructional materials related to gender, gender identity, gender expression and sexual orientation may not excuse their children from this instruction.”

Indeed, in some cases, the schools may not even warn parents about lessons they plan to teach on controversial subjects relating to sexual behavior and relationships.

This puts parents who dissent from the secular orthodoxy to a difficult choice: Try to scrape together the money for private school or home schooling, or allow their children to be inculcated with messages that they fundamentally reject.

A second axis of attack in the realm of education are state policies designed to starve religious schools of generally-available funds and encouraging students to choose secular options.  Montana, for example, created a program that provided tax credits to those who donated to a scholarship program that underprivileged students could use to attend private school.  The point of the program was to provide greater parental and student choice in education and to provide better educations to needy youth.

But Montana expressly excluded religiously-affiliated private schools from the program.  And when that exclusion was challenged in court by parents who wanted to use the scholarships to attend a nondenominational Christian school, the Montana Supreme Court required the state to eliminate the program rather than allow parents to use scholarships for religious schools.

It justified this action by pointing to a provision in Montana’s State Constitution commonly referred to as a “Blaine Amendment.”  Blaine Amendments were passed at a time of rampant anti-Catholic animus in this country, and typically disqualify religious institutions from receiving any direct or indirect payments from a state’s funds.

The case is now in the Supreme Court, and we filed a brief explaining why Montana’s Blaine Amendment violates the First Amendment.

A third kind of assault on religious freedom in education have been recent efforts to use state laws to force religious schools to adhere to secular orthodoxy. For example, right here in Indiana, a teacher sued the Catholic Archbishop of Indianapolis for directing the Catholic schools within his diocese that they could not employ teachers in same-sex marriages because the example of those same-sex marriages would undermine the schools’ teaching on the Catholic view of marriage and complementarity between the sexes.

This lawsuit clearly infringes the First Amendment rights of the Archdiocese by interfering both with its expressive association and with its church autonomy. The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest in the state court making these points, and we hope that the state court will soon dismiss the case.

Taken together, these cases paint a disturbing picture. We see the State requiring local public schools to insert themselves into contentious social debates, without regard for the religious views of their students or parents. In effect, these states are requiring local communities to make their public schools inhospitable to families with traditional religious values; those families are implicitly told that they should conform or leave.

At the same time, pressure is placed on religious schools to abandon their religious convictions. Simply because of their religious character, they are starved of funds – students who would otherwise choose to attend them are told they may only receive scholarships if they turn their sights elsewhere.

Simultaneously, they are threatened in tort and, eventually, will undoubtedly be threatened with denial of accreditation if they adhere to their religious character.  If these measures are successful, those with religious convictions will become still more marginalized.

I do not mean to suggest that there is no hope for moral renewal in our country.

But we cannot sit back and just hope the pendulum is going to swing back toward sanity.

As Catholics, we are committed to the Judeo-Christian values that have made this country great.

And we know that the first thing we have to do to promote renewal is to ensure that we are putting our principles into practice in our own personal private lives.

We understand that only by transforming ourselves can we transform the world beyond ourselves.

This is tough work. It is hard to resist the constant seductions of our contemporary society. This is where we need grace, prayer, and the help of our church.

Beyond this, we must place greater emphasis on the moral education of our children.

Education is not vocational training. It is leading our children to the recognition that there is truth and helping them develop the faculties to discern and love the truth and the discipline to live by it.

We cannot have a moral renaissance unless we succeed in passing to the next generation our faith and values in full vigor.

The times are hostile to this. Public agencies, including public schools, are becoming secularized and increasingly are actively promoting moral relativism.

If ever there was a need for a resurgence of Catholic education – and more generally religiously-affiliated schools – it is today.

I think we should do all we can to promote and support authentic Catholic education at all levels.

Finally, as lawyers, we should be particularly active in the struggle that is being waged against religion on the legal plane.

We must be vigilant to resist efforts by the forces of secularization to drive religious viewpoints from the public square and to impinge upon the free exercise of our faith.

I can assure you that, as long as I am Attorney General, the Department of Justice will be at the forefront of this effort, ready to fight for the most cherished of our liberties: the freedom to live according to our faith.

Thank you for the opportunity to talk with you today. And God bless you and Notre Dame.

https://www.justice.gov/opa/speech/attorney-general-william-p-barr-delivers-remarks-law-school-and-de-nicola-center-ethics

 

William Barr’s right about left’s designs on religious freedom

– The Washington Times – Thursday, October 17, 2019

As the Caribbean saying goes, “I chucked a rock in the pen and a pig squealed.”

This explains all the frenzied squealing and indignant grunting we heard in response to the speech Attorney General William Barr gave last week to law students at the University of Notre Dame about the increasing hostility toward religious liberty in America.

Mr. Barr raised alarm over “the force, fervor and comprehensiveness of the assault on religion we are experiencing today.”

For anyone thinking this is some random force or natural course of history, he jolted a harsh warning.

“This is not decay. It is organized destruction,” he said.

“Secularists and their allies among the ‘progressives’ have marshaled all the force of mass communications, popular culture, the entertainment industry and academia in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”

Anyone who missed the speech should find it and watch it. Anyone with a child in school should print out the speech and send it to him or her — or any of the other 16 genders schools are offering for students these days.

The smorgasbord of gender options inspires snorts of laughter among serious people, vexes anyone who believes in actual science and causes others to scoff and walk away.

But the infidels and infantiles who are running higher education today must be confronted with more than just laughter and dismissal. They are, after all, the ones destroying America by poisoning the minds of children. That is why the attorney general’s speech at Notre Dame is so important.

It is also why so many boars in the media took such offense to the speech and began squealing like a herd of mad swine racing for the lake.

One magazine cried that Mr. Barr is “neck deep in extremist Catholic institutions.”

For defending religious liberty?

Oh my. They make precisely William Barr’s point for him.

A major newspaper opined: “God is now Trump’s co-conspirator.” It was not meant as a compliment, again proving Mr. Barr’s point.

“Is this Barr’s cry for help?” pondered another major newspaper.

All the squealing proved not only Mr. Barr’s point about the rabid intolerance of religious liberty, but also that so many of the “intellectuals” in charge of American magazines and newspapers have already been poisoned by the nonsense and dishonesty dispensed by higher education these days.

These people are not only anti-religion, but they also are anti-science, anti-history and anti-liberty. Alexander Hamilton would weep if he knew the power these people now hold in his beloved republic.

Mr. Hamilton also would have applauded Mr. Barr’s speech. He and all the Founders would have recognized the speech as a flawless continuation of the endless debates they had about the nature of man, liberty and religion.

Picking up on the Founders’ discussion of man’s capacity for both “great good” and “great evil,” Mr. Barr said the “coercive power of government” cannot alone maintain a civil society. There must be other — more free and voluntary — guides of citizens’ behavior.

The notion of self-governance, he said, has dual meaning.

“It did not mean primarily the mechanics by which we select a representative legislative body. It referred to the capacity of each individual to restrain and govern themselves.”

Particularly alarming to Mr. Barr is the lust with which secular zealots go after personal, private religion.

“Militant secularists today do not have a ‘live and let live’ spirit,” he said. “They are not content to leave religious people alone to practice their faith. Instead, they seem to take delight in compelling people to violate their conscience.”

It is that very lust that leads political monsters to create untamable leviathans like Obamacare, which forces the Little Sisters of the Poor to violate their most precious religious convictions.

Is it any surprise, then, to see citizens turn on one another with the same evil lust?

https://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2019/oct/17/william-barrs-religious-hostility-speech-hits-sque/

 

 

Bill Barr ‘Gets’ Religion

The attorney general gives a speech on secularism, and the left goes bananas.

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists

Opinion: At Notre Dame, Bill Barr Takes on the Secularists
Main Street: During a speech at Notre Dame law school on October 11, 2019, Attorney General Bill Barr explained how secularists are assaulting religious freedom in an effort to break down traditional moral values and instead impose their own orthodoxy. Image: Robert Franklin/Associated Press

For Notre Dame fans, this football weekend was a twofer. Not only did the Irish beat a longtime rival, the University of Southern California, on Saturday, the campus was treated to a sight it had never before seen: the attorney general of the United States, at a pregame tailgater, serenading faculty, students and fans with his bagpipes.

Turns out that was William Barr’s second performance on campus. The first came at the law school Friday, when he delivered a bracing speech on the role of religion in the American story of freedom.

The attorney general advanced two broad propositions. First, the waning of religion’s influence in American life has left more of her citizens vulnerable to what Tocqueville called the “soft despotism” of government dependency. Second, today’s secularists are decidedly not of the live-and-let-live variety.

“The secular project has itself become a religion, pursued with religious fervor,” he said. “It is taking on all the trappings of religion, including inquisitions and excommunication. Those who defy the creed risk a figurative burning at the stake—social, educational and professional ostracism and exclusion waged through lawsuits and savage social media campaigns.”

Right out of central casting, critics stepped forward to prove his point. New York Times columnist Paul Krugman accused Mr. Barr of “religious bigotry” and described his words as a “pogrom type speech.”

Political ethicist and professional attention seeker Richard Painter tapped out a series of even more furious tweets, here calling the speech the latest episode of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” there suggesting Mr. Barr isn’t much of a Christian, here again saying Mr. Barr sounded like “vintage Goebbels.” Over at MSNBC, meanwhile, retired Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, once chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell, told Joy Reid the attorney general is “Torquemada in a business suit,” a reference to the Spanish Inquisition’s grand inquisitor.

This is what we have come to expect when someone in public life mentions religion in a positive light. Many didn’t like Mr. Barr’s blaming secularism for social pathologies such as drug addiction, family breakdown and increasing numbers of angry and alienated young males. Yet few engaged his more arresting contention, which is that all these problems have spiritual roots. Whereas religion addresses such challenges by stressing personal responsibility, Mr. Barr argued, the state’s answer is merely to try to alleviate “bad consequences.”

“So the reaction to growing illegitimacy is not sexual responsibility, but abortion,” he said. “The reaction to drug addiction is safe injection sites. The solution to the breakdown of the family is for the state to set itself up as an ersatz husband for the single mother and an ersatz father for the children. The call comes for more and more social programs to deal with this wreckage—and while we think we’re solving problems, we are underwriting them.”

Vincent Phillip Muñoz, a Notre Dame professor, notes there was nothing particularly Catholic about this speech. Like Washington in his Farewell Address, he says, Mr. Barr focused on the irreplaceable role of religion in cultivating the morality citizens need to be capable of self-government.

“The speech wasn’t first and foremost about religious freedom,” says Mr. Muñoz. “It was about the human and social consequences of the new secular morality, and what happens when the state views its citizens not only in purely material terms, but as subjects who can’t really govern themselves.”

Even those who strongly disagree with Mr. Barr ought to have found this an invitation for thoughtful and vigorous debate. But rather than engage, some imply there is something unseemly about an attorney general’s even speaking at a Catholic university. Given the hostility that holding such a conversation engenders on campuses today, perhaps America can count itself fortunate it still has a university where this can happen.

Carter Snead, the law professor who invited Mr. Barr, puts it this way: “At Notre Dame, we are not afraid to explore the hard questions about God, religion and America together in friendship, especially on those matters about which people strongly disagree.”

Freedom of religion

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People praying to Lord Brahma, a Hindu deity, at the Erawan shrineBangkok

Freedom of religion is a principle that supports the freedom of an individual or community, in public or private, to manifest religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship, and observance. It also includes the freedom to change one’s religion or beliefs.[1]

Freedom of religion is considered by many people and most of the nations to be a fundamental human right.[2][3] In a country with a state religion, freedom of religion is generally considered to mean that the government permits religious practices of other sects besides the state religion, and does not persecute believers in other faiths. Freedom of belief is different. It allows the right to believe what a person, group or religion wishes, but it does not necessarily allow the right to practice the religion or belief openly and outwardly in a public manner.

History

Minerva as a symbol of enlightened wisdom protects the believers of all religions (Daniel Chodowiecki, 1791)

Historically, freedom of religion has been used to refer to the tolerance of different theological systems of belief, while freedom of worship has been defined as freedom of individual action. Each of these have existed to varying degrees. While many countries have accepted some form of religious freedom, this has also often been limited in practice through punitive taxation, repressive social legislation, and political disenfranchisement. Compare examples of individual freedom in Italy or the Muslim tradition of dhimmis, literally “protected individuals” professing an officially tolerated non-Muslim religion.

The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen (1789) guarantees freedom of religion, as long as religious activities do not infringe on public order in ways detrimental to society.

In Antiquity, a syncretic point of view often allowed communities of traders to operate under their own customs. When street mobs of separate quarters clashed in a Hellenistic or Romancity, the issue was generally perceived to be an infringement of community rights.

Cyrus the Great established the Achaemenid Empire ca. 550 BC, and initiated a general policy of permitting religious freedom throughout the empire, documenting this on the Cyrus Cylinder.[4][5]

Some of the historical exceptions have been in regions where one of the revealed religions has been in a position of power: Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Islam. Others have been where the established order has felt threatened, as shown in the trial of Socrates in 399 BC or where the ruler has been deified, as in Rome, and refusal to offer token sacrifice was similar to refusing to take an oath of allegiance. This was the core for resentment and the persecution of early Christian communities.

Freedom of religious worship was established in the Buddhist Maurya Empire of ancient India by Ashoka the Great in the 3rd century BC, which was encapsulated in the Edicts of Ashoka.

Greek-Jewish clashes at Cyrene in 73 AD and 117 AD and in Alexandria in 115 AD provide examples of cosmopolitan cities as scenes of tumult.

The Romans tolerated most religions, including Judaism and encouraged local subjects to continue worshipping their own gods. They did not however, tolerate Christianity until it was legalised by the Roman emperor Galerius in 311. The Edict of Milan guaranteed freedom of religion in the Roman Empire until the Edict of Thessalonica in 380, which outlawed all religions except Christianity.

Muslim world

Following a period of fighting lasting around a hundred years before 620 AD which mainly involved Arab and Jewish inhabitants of Medina (then known as Yathrib), religious freedom for Muslims, Jews and pagans was declared by Muhammad in the Constitution of Medina. The Islamic Caliphate later guaranteed religious freedom under the conditions that non-Muslim communities accept dhimmi status and their adult males pay the punitive jizya tax instead of the zakat paid by Muslim citizens.[6] Though Dhimmis were not given the same political rights as Muslims, they nevertheless did enjoy equality under the laws of property, contract, and obligation.[7][8][9]

Religious pluralism existed in classical Islamic ethics and Sharia, as the religious laws and courts of other religions, including Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism, were usually accommodated within the Islamic legal framework, as seen in the early CaliphateAl-AndalusIndian subcontinent, and the Ottoman Millet system.[10][11] In medieval Islamic societies, the qadi (Islamic judges) usually could not interfere in the matters of non-Muslims unless the parties voluntarily choose to be judged according to Islamic law, thus the dhimmi communities living in Islamic states usually had their own laws independent from the Sharia law, such as the Jews who would have their own Halakha courts.[12]

Dhimmis were allowed to operate their own courts following their own legal systems in cases that did not involve other religious groups, or capital offences or threats to public order.[13] Non-Muslims were allowed to engage in religious practices that were usually forbidden by Islamic law, such as the consumption of alcohol and pork, as well as religious practices which Muslims found repugnant, such as the Zoroastrian practice of incestuous “self-marriage” where a man could marry his mother, sister or daughter. According to the famous Islamic legal scholar Ibn Qayyim (1292–1350), non-Muslims had the right to engage in such religious practices even if it offended Muslims, under the conditions that such cases not be presented to Islamic Sharia courts and that these religious minorities believed that the practice in question is permissible according to their religion.[14]

Despite Dhimmis enjoying special statuses under the Caliphates, they were not considered equals, and sporadic persecutions of non-Muslim groups did occur in the history of the Caliphates.[15][16][17]

India

Ancient Jews fleeing from persecution in their homeland 2,500 years ago settled in India and never faced anti-Semitism.[18] Freedom of religion edicts have been found written during Ashoka the Great‘s reign in the 3rd century BC. Freedom to practise, preach and propagate any religion is a constitutional right in Modern India. Most major religious festivals of the main communities are included in the list of national holidays.

Although India is an 80% Hindu country, India is a secular state without any state religions.

Many scholars and intellectuals believe that India’s predominant religion, Hinduism, has long been a most tolerant religion.[19] Rajni Kothari, founder of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies has written, “[India] is a country built on the foundations of a civilisation that is fundamentally non-religious.”[20]

The Dalai Lama, the Tibetan leader in exile, said that religious tolerance of ‘Aryabhoomi,’ a reference to India found in the Mahabharata, has been in existence in this country from thousands of years. “Not only Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism, Sikhism which are the native religions but also Christianity and Islam have flourished here. Religious tolerance is inherent in Indian tradition,” the Dalai Lama said.[21]

Freedom of religion in the Indian subcontinent is exemplified by the reign of King Piyadasi (304–232 BC) (Ashoka). One of King Ashoka’s main concerns was to reform governmental institutes and exercise moral principles in his attempt to create a just and humane society. Later he promoted the principles of Buddhism, and the creation of a just, understanding and fair society was held as an important principle for many ancient rulers of this time in the East.

The importance of freedom of worship in India was encapsulated in an inscription of Ashoka:

King Piyadasi (Ashok) dear to the Gods, honours all sects, the ascetics (hermits) or those who dwell at home, he honours them with charity and in other ways. But the King, dear to the Gods, attributes less importance to this charity and these honours than to the vow of seeing the reign of virtues, which constitutes the essential part of them. For all these virtues there is a common source, modesty of speech. That is to say, one must not exalt one’s creed discrediting all others, nor must one degrade these others without legitimate reasons. One must, on the contrary, render to other creeds the honour befitting them.

On the main Asian continent, the Mongols were tolerant of religions. People could worship as they wished freely and openly.

After the arrival of Europeans, Christians in their zeal to convert local as per belief in conversion as service of God, have also been seen to fall into frivolous methods since their arrival, though by and large there are hardly any reports of law and order disturbance from mobs with Christian beliefs, except perhaps in the north eastern region of India.[22]

Freedom of religion in contemporary India is a fundamental right guaranteed under Article 25 of the nation’s constitution. Accordingly, every citizen of India has a right to profess, practice and propagate their religions peacefully.[23] Vishwa Hindu Parishad counters this argument by saying that evangelical Christians are forcefully (or through money) converting rural, illiterate populations and they are only trying to stop this.

In September 2010, the Indian state of Kerala‘s State Election Commissioner announced that “Religious heads cannot issue calls to vote for members of a particular community or to defeat the nonbelievers”.[24] The Catholic Church comprising Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara rites used to give clear directions to the faithful on exercising their franchise during elections through pastoral letters issued by bishops or council of bishops. The pastoral letter issued by Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Council (KCBC) on the eve of the poll urged the faithful to shun atheists.[24]

Even today, most Indians celebrate all religious festivals with equal enthusiasm and respect. Hindu festivals like Deepavali and Holi, Muslim festivals like Eid al-FitrEid-Ul-AdhaMuharram, Christian festivals like Christmas and other festivals like Buddha PurnimaMahavir Jayanti, Gur Purab etc. are celebrated and enjoyed by all Indians.

Europe

Religious intolerance

Nineteenth century allegorical statue on the Congress Column in Belgium depicting religious freedom

Most Roman Catholic kingdoms kept a tight rein on religious expression throughout the Middle Ages. Jews were alternately tolerated and persecuted, the most notable examples of the latter being the expulsion of all Jews from Spain in 1492. Some of those who remained and converted were tried as heretics in the Inquisition for allegedly