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Syria, Iran, Russia, Turkey, Kurds, Israel--war and refugees

Pro and Con

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Sep 10, 2018, 10:21am Top

>196 Do you find it credible that Assad is going to use chlorine and has let it be known?

Sounds like a stick in the eye for America, which, of course, is nothing compared to what civilians in Idlib will suffer, I'm afraid.

Assad with Putin and Rouhani standing behind him: "So whatta yah gonna do about it?"

Sep 10, 2018, 4:20pm Top

>1 margd: My question was meant quite plainly--do you find the source credible. I hoped it would be refuted.

Spalding thought I was asking for a lesson in tactics. Thanks, Tim.

Iriley, of course I agree with you. These days my thinking is that the US needed to re-think their foreign policy after Vietnam if they were to maintain a shred of credibility, but they changed nothing substantial and add war crime upon war crime in a world they can still somehow manage to renege upon.

Sep 10, 2018, 5:06pm Top

I too hope it's not true. Possible that it's more a US worry than outright threat: no details re threat and this Administration can be a stranger to truth. (It WAS Fox, also.) In article below, doesn't sound like US has a ready response if there is a chemical attack--it's all over the place.

Syria's Assad has approved use of chlorine gas in Idlib: report
Megan Keller - 09/10/18

Sep 10, 2018, 5:51pm Top

>3 margd: Yeah, nothing convincing there.

Dec 21, 2018, 3:43am Top

Kurdish Fighters Discuss Releasing Almost 3,200 ISIS Prisoners
Twaida Saad and Rod Nordland | Dec. 20, 2018

...Top officials of the Syrian Democratic Forces, the Kurdish-led and American-supported militia fighting the Islamic State in eastern Syria, met on Wednesday to discuss the option of releasing about 1,100 Islamic State fighters and 2,080 relatives of the group’s members, according to Rami Abdul Rahman, the head of the Syrian Observatory on Human Rights.

...A report by the Syrian Observatory said the S.D.F. leadership was discussing the prisoners’ release because the home countries of many of them had refused to take them back. The observatory, a London-based group with a network of citizen monitors throughout Syria whose work is widely considered credible, said the prisoners come from 31 countries in addition to Syria, and their family members from 41 countries.

The S.D.F. was also concerned that it would need all of its fighters to defend against a possible Turkish military invasion, the report said — a prospect made more likely by a United States withdrawal.

The Syrian Democratic Forces are predominantly made up of Kurdish fighters from the Y.P.G., the People’s Protection Units, but under American tutelage the group has signed up many Arab fighters opposed to the Islamic State; Arabs now make up about 40 percent of the force, which has up to 75,000 fighters. The group has been trained, advised, financed and supplied by the United States, which has 2,000 troops, mostly Special Operations forces, in Syria allied with the S.D.F.

With American support, especially from airstrikes, since 2016 the Kurds have pushed the Islamic State out of most of the territory it held in eastern and northern Syria, reducing the extremists to a pocket of about 20 square miles on the Iraqi border, near the town of Hajin, far from any cities. Fighting continues in that area, although the S.D.F. claimed last week to have ousted the Islamic State from Hajin.

Turkey has vowed to attack the S.D.F. because it considers the Y.P.G. as a front for the outlawed Peoples Workers Party, or P.K.K., in Turkey, and last week it said a cross-border invasion to attack the Kurds was only days away.

That led to a telephone conversation between Mr. Trump and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey last Friday, after which the United States quietly began making preparations for the troop withdrawal.



Turkey threatens to ‘bury’ Kurdish forces in Syria amid U.S. withdrawal
Erin Cunningham | December 20 at 12:37 PM

...Turkey’s defense minister said Thursday that Kurdish forces in Syria would be “buried” in their trenches in any Turkish operation to rout the fighters from the border, just one day after President Trump announced a withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.

Speaking from the Qatari capital, Doha, Hulusi Akar said Turkey was preparing “intensely” for a military offensive east of the Euphrates River in Syria, where Kurdish-led forces have battled the Islamic State militant group.

The fighters have dug trenches and tunnels in the area in anticipation of the operation, Akar said, according to Turkey’s official Anadolu news agency.

“But whatever they dig . . . when the time comes they will be buried in the trenches,” he said. “Of this there should no doubt.”...


Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 12:03pm Top

Our history in the region is just shit. It almost doesn't matter where. It's shit everywhere.

So drawing the troops out of Syria and Afghanistan--well if you're anti-war you might have (like I did) voted for Obama back in 2008 thinking that was what was going to happen because we should have never gone into Iraq in the first place and we should have been in and out of Afghanistan at the worst. There is no endgame and for the Generals---I get it....honor and all that stuff--they're proud people and proud of their troops---they can't let something like this go--they can't leave without a victory but there's no real way they're going to get it--we'll never win hearts and minds and whatever POTUS comes along the General's idea is to continue to kick that can down the road--that is why Obama kept troops in Afghanistan and though he drew most of the troops out of Iraq he still left a goodly number behind and then in we go into Syria after the would be Calaphatists. Key Iraqi officers of the Bush disbanded Iraq army by the way eventually found themselves teaching teach tactics and strategy to what would later become ISIS. That administration did everything wrong.

We should have never gone in the first place. We're 17 years down the road from when we first went into Afganistan with no real endgame in sight. Someone has to eventually bring us out.

The other problem though is the way Trump does this is just colossally asinine. Talks to Erdogan. Doesn't say a word to his General's, allies, cabinet people or anyone else. Talks to Erdogan and makes up his mind from that. He thinks he knows everything and won't take advice and this is just another in a long line of examples of someone out of control. By the way though the coalitions which we led into these places meanwhile are stuck with their asses hanging in the wind. What will they think of us after we're out? The Kurds meanwhile will be left to fend with the Russians, the Syrian Army and the Turks. These people who we made promises to support are going to be abandoned on the battlefield. I guess this is what the mess of getting out is going to look like after 17 years of fruitless bullshit.....and G.W. Bush is actually the one that should be blamed the most. Pretty much the entirety of the the 17 years of wreckage is going to be in vain. That's the way it was always going to be and Trump is going to get it right in the ass and it looks like maybe many from his own party will finally start lambasting what a jerk and a dope he is. Well he is an idiot but really credit where it's due--blame particularly lies with Bush and to a lesser extent Obama and there's little bits of blame for all the nutjobs that thought invasion and nation building were good ideas back in 2002 and 2003.

Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 7:53am Top

For the Kurds, it goes back farther than Bush. Aftermath of WW1? Europeans denied them a homeland and they were divvied up between Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey? In Turkey they were forbidden to speak their own language...and that was the least of it: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-29702440


Unbelievable that life-and-death decisions are made this way--even Erdogan was shocked by "You know what? It's yours."
Israel was informed before the Kurds...

Trump call with Turkey's Erdogan led to U.S. pullout from Syria
Associated Press | Dec. 21, 2018

...Scretary of State Mike Pompeo arranged the Dec. 14 call a day after he had unsuccessfully sought clarity from Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu about Erdogan's threats to launch a military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish rebels in northeast Syria, where American forces are based.

Pompeo, Mattis and other members of the national security team prepared a list of talking points for Trump to tell Erdogan to back off, the officials said.

But the officials said Trump, who had previously accepted such advice and convinced the Turkish leader not to attack the Kurds and put U.S. troops at risk, ignored the script. Instead, the president sided with Erdogan.

..."The talking points were very firm," said one of the officials, explaining that Trump was advised to clearly oppose a Turkish incursion into northern Syria and suggest the U.S. and Turkey work together to address security concerns. "Everybody said push back and try to offer (Turkey) something that's a small win, possibly holding territory on the border, something like that."

Erdogan, though, quickly put Trump on the defensive, reminding him that he had repeatedly said the only reason for U.S. troops to be in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State and that the group had been 99 percent defeated. "Why are you still there?" the second official said Erdogan asked Trump, telling him that the Turks could deal with the remaining IS militants.

With Erdogan on the line, Trump asked national security adviser John Bolton, who was listening in, why American troops remained in Syria if what the Turkish president was saying was true, according to the officials. Erdogan's point, Bolton was forced to admit, had been backed up by Mattis, Pompeo, U.S. special envoy for Syria Jim Jeffrey and special envoy for the anti-ISIS coalition Brett McGurk, who have said that IS retains only 1 percent of its territory, the officials said.

Bolton stressed, however, that the entire national security team agreed that victory over IS had to be enduring, which means more than taking away its territory.

Trump was not dissuaded, according to the officials, who said the president quickly capitulated by pledging to withdraw, shocking both Bolton and Erdogan.

Caught off guard, Erdogan cautioned Trump against a hasty withdrawal, according to one official. While Turkey has made incursions into Syria in the past, it does not have the necessary forces mobilized on the border to move in and hold the large swaths of northeastern Syria where U.S. troops are positioned, the official said.

The call ended with Trump repeating to Erdogan that the U.S. would pull out, but offering no specifics on how it would be done, the officials said.

Over the weekend, the national security team raced to come up with a plan that would reverse, delay or somehow limit effects of the withdrawal, the officials said.

On Monday, Bolton, Mattis and Pompeo met at the White House to try to plot a middle course. But they were told by outgoing chief of staff John Kelly and his soon-to-be successor Mick Mulvaney that Trump was determined to pull out and was not to be delayed or denied, according to the officials. The trio met again on Tuesday morning to try to salvage things, but were again rebuffed...

The White House had wanted to announce the decision on Tuesday — and press secretary Sarah Sanders scheduled a rare briefing specifically to announce it. But the Pentagon convinced Trump to hold off because the withdrawal plans weren't complete and allies and Congress had not yet been notified, according to the officials. The first country aside from Turkey to be told of the impending pull-out was Israel, the officials said.

Word of the imminent withdrawal began to seep out early Wednesday after U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Joseph Votel started to inform his commanders on the ground and the Kurds of the decision.

Following the official announcement the White House emphasized that the U.S. will continue to support the fight against IS and remains ready to "re-engage" when needed. But in a tweet, the president said U.S. troops would no longer be fighting IS on behalf of others.


Edited: Dec 22, 2018, 7:28am Top

#7-- The Turks hate them. Turkey is not that nice a place and they aren't tolerant in respect to religious differences or groups seeking some kind of autonomy (the Armenians would be another example) and internal criticism is another thing the Turks are always trying to suppress. They've gone after writers and artists who don't toe the line. Orhan Pamuk--their literary Nobelist for one. The Kurds are split up between the border regions of Turkey, Iraq and Syria. Saddam Hussein was infamous for gassing them trying to bring them into line. The Kurds are also more western and more modern than traditional in their outlook which makes them almost a regional anomaly but they are also stateless and that leaves them in a vulnerable position--the play thing of autocratic regimes.

The USA by the way has been selling the Turks all kinds of weapons for decades. They are a whole lot more reliable as buyers than the Saudi's for sure. We've know full well that the Turks have no compunctions about using those weapons to suppress the Kurds. So our view of the Kurds has kind of been like it's okay for the Turks to do what they need to do because it's good for our arms manufacturers but on the Iraqi side of the border the Kurds our are friends. Well were---until Donald bumbled along. It might be just as simple as those arms sales that has Donald throwing the Kurds under the bus and playing kissy face with Erdogan. Donny's all about the $'s. He'd sell his soul to the devil if he could---maybe he has.

Dec 22, 2018, 8:03am Top

Kurds--"the plaything of autocratic regimes".

I knew an Iraqi Kurd studying at the local university. A lawyer, he had been imprisoned by Hussein, who then paid for his education here in Michigan. He was finishing up just as Hussein invaded Kuwait, but he and his young family had no option to stay in the USA as his family back home would be charged for his education back to grade school and otherwise harassed. So off he went to uncertain future and a possible war. He was a woolly country guy whom I displeased by chiding him when he teased his lovely wife (a pharmacist) about finding a second wife. I hated to think of him jerked around so and still wonder what became of them...

Dec 22, 2018, 11:59am Top

#9--well hopefully they are doing well or well enough. You can't help where you were born and you can't help it if you're surrounded by religious fundamentalists and authoratarian regimes.

Dec 23, 2018, 9:00am Top

Dawned on me reading this that Syrian deployment was an OBAMA initiative, one that saved many American lives and leaves us deeply indebted to our Kurdish allies. OBAMA--no wonder Trump didn't hesitate to end the deployment the way he did... :-(

Rukmini Callimachi (NYT) @rcallimachi | 21h21 hours ago (12/22/2018)

1. Days after Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis resigns, Brett McGurk, the top diplomat leading the fight against ISIS, turns in his resignation letter, saying he cannot carry out Trump’s policy of withdrawing from Syria...

2. In an email that brought his staff to tears, McGurk said: “The recent decision by the president came as a shock and was a complete reversal of policy that was articulated to us. It left our coalition partners confused and our fighting partners bewildered....”

3. “.... I worked this week to help manage some of the fallout but — as many of you heard in my meetings and phone calls — I ultimately concluded that I could not carry out these new instructions and maintain my integrity,” he said.

4. @BrettMcGurk was considered by many to be the glue holding together the sprawling, 79-nation coalition battling ISIS. A veteran of 3 administrations, he was a rare holdover from the Obama White House, a sign of the crucial role he played in helping mount the war against ISIS

5. @BrettMcGurk was due to leave in February. It’s significant that he accelerated his departure by two months, in light of the events that just occurred.

6. Apparently I tagged the wrong Brett McGurk. Correct address is @brett_mcgurk...

7. Our full story on @brett_mcgurk's resignation. He is credited with stitching together the multi-ethnic and multi-national, 79-member coalition which launched the war against ISIS. This was anything but easy, as the former director of the NTCT attests:


8. Among the most difficult pieces to get right in the battle against ISIS was finding a reliable partner in Syria, able to wage a ground war against the terror group. It became clear early on that only a Kurdish militia had the capacity to do it. But then Turkey got in the way: ...

9. It was McGurk's team that first convinced Turkey to allow a US airdrop to the Kurds during the siege of Kobane in 2014 and the opening of a land bridge so that the Kurds could resupply. Eventually, the US was able to broker an alliance with the Kurds, despite Turkish pushback

10. Because of that alliance, the campaign in Syria has been low cost for the United States, both in terms of money spent & lives lost. While four American soldiers were killed there in the 3+ years since our involvement, officials estimate that the Kurds buried 10,000 of theirs

11. Compare that to how many American soldiers died during the Iraq war - over 300 per year in the first 13 years of that conflict. The key in the Obama administration's approach to the war on ISIS was helping prop up local partners, who did the bulk of the ground invasion...

12. Days before Trump announced the drawdown, @brett_mcgurk reassured colleagues that America was in it for the long haul. He then had to call our Kurdish allies - the very people who died by the 1000s in this fight - to tell them that the U.S. was reneging on its promise...

13. In a Tweet today, Trump reiterated that he considers ISIS defeated even though the group still has 20,000 to 30,000 fighters just in Iraq & Syria. He suggested Turkey could mop up what's left. Seems unrealistic given how reluctant Turkey was to get involved in the first place


Edited: Dec 23, 2018, 11:29am Top

What we seem to be seeing more of is a President making decisions on his gut--without advice from his cabinet or experts and without any real nuance to his decision making. These decisions of his sometimes come right out of the blue (catching even his own people unawares) in these awful twitter comments and replete with spelling and grammatical errors.

On the wall--Bob Corker was on CNN today. He pretty much stated bluntly that in the past year there have been bi-partisan deals on the table that would have passed and that would have actually given Trump a lot more funding for his wall than the $5 billion being carped about now but that the POTUS and his administration kiboshed for whatever reason. Well one thing is Trump's reluctance to get behind the Dreamer's act. Corker basically stated there were numerous Republican Senators who wanted to do DACA and that right now what we're seeing is Trump playing to his base--Corker going on to say that Trump's role in all this was juvenile. Corker, naturally rolled over for Trump numerous times but one can clearly see and hear distaste when talking about his POTUS.

That charade that Trump pulled a couple weeks ago with Schumer and Pelosi you didn't see him offering anything. When you don't have all the power you can't bargain with nothing.

Dec 23, 2018, 3:58pm Top

Turkey Edges Closer to Attacking Kurdish Stronghold in Syria (Manbij)
Selcan Hacaoglu and Onur Ant | December 23, 2018

Soldiers in a convoy of around 200 vehicles including howitzers, armored military personnel carriers and artillery advanced to reinforce the military’s presence in areas close to Manbij, TRT (Turkish state broadcaster) said on Sunday.

...Trump said he had a “long and productive” call with Erdogan on Sunday, tweeting that they discussed “the slow & highly coordinated pullout of U.S. troops from the area. After many years they are coming home.” The two men also discussed expanded trade, Trump said.

...Trump’s decision to withdraw drew cautious optimism from Turkish officials. While indicating an end to American support for the YPG, the withdrawal could also pave the way for a power grab by Iran and Russia, the two other key actors in the Syrian civil war.

Absence of the U.S. sets Russian President Vladimir Putin up as a pivotal figure in resolving the Syrian war and strengthens his hand across the Middle East. Trump’s declaration fulfills a long-standing Russian demand for a U.S. withdrawal from Syria.

...French President Emmanuel Macron Sunday praised the international coalition-backed Syrian Democratic Forces’ (Kurds and Arabs) work against ISIS.

...TRT said Sunday that the U.S. has already pulled out all of the 300 to 400 soldiers it had in Manbij but Kurdish forces remained in their positions...

Dec 23, 2018, 4:56pm Top

#13--I wonder if in Trump's 'long and productive call' he even mentioned the Kurds. I'm thinking probably not.

Dec 23, 2018, 5:59pm Top

Corker's interview remarked on in #12 must have struck a nerve. Trump launched a twitter attack on him accusing him of lying---taking another remark of Corker's that the retiring Senator from Tennessee had always intended to retire after two terms in the Senate. Trump claimed that wasn't true and that Corker only decided not to run because Donald wouldn't endorse which had caused his poll numbers to drop. Corker shot back on Twitter to Donald: 'Just like Mexico is going to build the wall'---not the usual for a Republican to use that line.

Edited: Dec 23, 2018, 11:00pm Top

". . if ... (Trump) even mentioned the Kurds" (!)

U. S. Government distrust (esp. C I A distrust) of the Kurds (and perhaps the Shia, too), has a long history, going back at least to George H. W. Bushʻs* ousting of Sadam Hussein from Kuwait -- and deciding that that was our goal AND our ONLY goal. My late wife greatly admired GHWB FOR that decision; me: only IN SPITE of IT. But neither of us had voted for him. (1988, 1992). (Bill Clinton did set up a no-fly zone against Sadam in Kurdish areas of Iraq.)

*(He wanted to avoid an Iraqi civil war. But such was the de facto result of his copout which probably was
traceable to his experience as C I A director (Nixon appointee).

Dec 24, 2018, 6:36am Top

Richard Engel @RichardEngel (NBC News) | 3:12 PM - 22 Dec 2018

Spoke to a professor with deep connections into Kurdish leadership in Syria. I asked him about the mood there after Trump announcement, his answer sent chills:
Hurt, betrayed, and angry.
They'll all be dead soon...

" a professor with deep connections into Kurdish leadership in Syria" Eons ago I knew a fellow likewise with deep connections into Kurdish leadership (in another country, not Syria). My impression was less that they were trying to undermine the country, but rather to care for their people. They seemed to me with my admittedly shallow exposure...measured.

Dec 24, 2018, 1:28pm Top

Greatly appreciate your posts, margd, and
Merry Christmas!

Do you happen to know if Rod Rosenstein is still William Muellerʻs boss, or is Matt Whitaker?

Dec 24, 2018, 3:32pm Top

Merry Christmas, Roland--and thanks!

My understanding is that both Rosenstein and Whitaker are in the loop.
Whitaker may not recuse, but IMO he'd be wise to keep Rosenstein between him and the Mueller-tarbaby!

Dec 27, 2018, 5:08am Top

What Is Going on With Turkey and the Kurds, Anyway?
Angry WH Staffer | December 26, 2018

...Quick overview

...Now for Turkey's viewpoint

...Brief summary of the agreement: Erdogan wants to cross the border to launch an offensive against the Syrian Kurds in the enclave of Rojava. This isn't the first time they've threatened to do this; just the first time we've refused to push back...


Dec 27, 2018, 8:58am Top

Russia Warns U.S. Against Interfering in Saudi Royal Succession
Henry Meyer and Stepan Kravchenko | December 26, 2018, 7:19 AM EST

Putin envoy backs embattled crown prince as next Saudi king

MBS since 2017 has built close relationship to Russian leader...


Jan 11, 2019, 9:09am Top

U.S. Begins Syria Withdrawal, Amid Uncertainty Over Strategy
Ben Hubbard | Jan. 11, 2019

...As recently as Sunday, President Trump’s national security adviser, John R. Bolton, had said that the pullout was conditional on circumstances that could leave American forces there for months or even years. That followed by less than a month President Trump’s announcement that he intended to pull out the roughly 2,000 American troops within 30 days.

The surprise announcement came in a statement from Col. Sean Ryan, the spokesman for the United States-led coalition against the Islamic State. Colonel Ryan said the coalition had “begun the process of our deliberate withdrawal from Syria,” adding that he would provide no further information about “specific timelines, locations or troop movements.”...


Edited: Feb 5, 2019, 9:55pm Top

A fine piece in the latest Harper's


Sounds a lot like reports I was highlighting two years ago, to general eyerolls.

Though to be fair, Nafeez Ahmed's report out last summer for for Queen Mary--University of London is also very much worth a read. The rigor is to be commended.

Edited: Feb 6, 2019, 11:28am Top

Meanwhile, Trump really put his foot in it in that MSNBC CBS interview.


US president Donald Trump’s statement of his intention to remain in Iraq in order to “be looking a little bit at Iran because Iran is a real problem” has created a political storm in Mesopotamia among local politicians and groups now determined to put an end to the US presence in the country. Many are upset by Trump’s statement, saying that the “US forces are departing from their initial mission to fight terrorism, the reason for which they are allowed to stay in Iraq”. Iraqi President Barham Saleh commented that the US administration did not ask Iraq’s permission for US troops stationed in the country to “watch Iran”.

Feb 6, 2019, 11:55am Top

>23 davidgn: Harper's article is depressingly comprehensive...I remember the horror of the 14 year old being tortured. Just as depressing now to see apartment buildings reduced to rubble...

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 2:47pm Top

On the case of Shamina Begum, the "ISIS bride" stripped of UK citizenship.
I hadn't been aware that she was a native-born UK citizen.

Begum may be a criminal, but as far as I am concerned, if so, she is a British criminal, and only once duly convicted. ISIS bride or not, stripping citizenship by fiat from second-generation immigrants is outrageous.


Quite possibly also a violation of the UN Conventions on Statelessness as well, since it's not clear to me she has any other citizenship, and apparently the Bangladeshis won't have her. But I welcome further information on all such questions.

eta Murray:
The attitude to immigrants which is betrayed by the stripping of citizenship from Shamima Begum is truly appalling. A British citizen, born in the UK, is deemed to be a citizen of another country they have never seen, because their immigrant parents came from there. To refuse to accept first generation Britons are Britons, as in Windrush, was bad enough. To claim that second generation Britons are not British, but rather citizens of where their ancestors “came from”, is racism pure and simple.

Begum is not a sympathetic figure. Savid Javid could not have found an easier target for his macho display of vindictiveness, guaranteed to win plaudits from the bigots whose votes Javid needs for his looming Tory leadership bid. Javid knows full well his decision will eventually be overturned by the courts, but he has already achieved his political objective of personal self-aggrandisement.





Feb 20, 2019, 2:14pm Top

We've got one of our own. Hoda Muthana, native-born U.S. citizen from Alabama. Pompeio just came out declaring her not a citizen. Can't see how that verdict can possibly stand.


Feb 20, 2019, 2:29pm Top

We may have another: Davidgn: spreading anti-Fox News propaganda.

Feb 20, 2019, 2:37pm Top

>28 RickHarsch: That's where this road ends up, isn't it?

Here's the official word.

Feb 20, 2019, 2:50pm Top

Shit, that's pretty ugly. And Kissinger is still around, right?

Feb 20, 2019, 3:24pm Top

Murderous sociopath.

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 3:33pm Top

I know the Trump administration has had issues with the 14th Amendment, but this takes it to a different level, doesn't it?


Comments section alleges Muthana publicly burned her U.S. passport on YouTube. Well, fine, prosecute her for destruction of government property if you like. But unless she did so in a U.S. embassy or consulate abroad with the specific express intention of renouncing her citizenship, and wilfully jumped through all the requisite procedural hoops to achieve that end, that action has no other legal effect.

Feb 20, 2019, 3:42pm Top

ACLU, I would hope, will have a field day with this

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 4:31pm Top

>34 RickHarsch: Well, the plot thickens.


Apparently Muthana's father was a Yemeni diplomat. Which is, indeed, an exception to jus soli citizenship...
except that apparently, she was born in Hackensack, NJ several months after her father's diplomatic appointment ended. Which should mean that objection is spurious. Also the fact that she was previously issued a passport, presumably as a natural-born citizen. Though it will be interesting to see how the facts pan out.

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 4:43pm Top

>26 davidgn: Jeepers creepers. According to this pollster, at least, 76% of UK public supports Javid's position v. Begum, with only 12% opposed. That's essentially 12% support for the rule of law. (Specifically, article 8 of the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convention_on_the_Reduction_of_Statelessness -- though please, any lawyers tell me if I'm missing something -- not sure about state of UK laws at time of ratification, but pretty sure section 4 covers the matter, at the very least.)


eta Grauniad has legal analysis

eta (And to be a bit more tongue-in-cheek: where's Garry Davis when you need him? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Garry_Davis )

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 6:50pm Top

As a point of trivia: in case anyone is interested in the process that would be necessarily to legitimately relinquish U.S. citizenship intentionally (including, if one so desires, to become intentionally stateless), this guy wrote a book based on his own experience of the process.


Apparently, the fee to do so is $2,350.

The author now lives in Asunción, intentionally stateless, and travels using a 1954 Convention travel document issued by Uruguay.

The book: How To Renounce Your U.S. Citizenship in Two Easy Steps https://www.amazon.com/Renounce-Your-U-S-Citizenship-Steps/dp/999532895X
(available free at author's website: https://glr.com.py/)

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 6:50pm Top

>26 davidgn:, >36 davidgn: As I understand it, you are misrepresenting the (spurious) grounds for depriving Shamima Begum of British citizenship. It is not that her parental background somehow dilutes her British citizenship.

As you correctly state, it is illegal to deprive someone of citizenship, whatever their crimes, if by doing so, they are left stateless. However, it is legitimate to deprive dual nationals of citizenship, and, according to the UK Home Secretary, several hundred British citizens have already had their citizenship removed in this way.

As the child of parents who were born in Bangladesh, Shamima Begum is apparently entitled to claim Bangladeshi citizenship.

Thus, since she could claim this, she would not be left stateless by the removal of her British citizenship.

No one is pretending that she was not fully a British citizen. The question is whether she also has/had another citizenship.

Her parents have stated that she never claimed Bangladeshi citizenship, and therefore did not have dual nationality.

If that is correct, then the Home Secretary's action is probably illegal. A potential citizenship does not exist until it has been claimed.

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 7:18pm Top

>37 davidgn: We're actually in agreement, in a strictly legal sense. I gather you're taking issue with the Murray quote. At issue for Murray is the civic message sent by the Home Secretary's presumably illegal action, in the context of the UK's "hostile environment" policies and the Windrush scandal: that even legal immigrants are only British so long as they're wanted, and that such Britishness is precarious and can be revoked at whim.


The Windrush victims were legally entitled to citizenship, too. This didn't stop them from being deported. The apparent extension of such precariousness and unreliability of legal status to the second generation of immigrants doesn't do much for perceptions.

Feb 20, 2019, 7:23pm Top


The Guardian makes a similar point.

In recent days, Ms Begum has made abhorrent statements which have angered and distressed the relatives of Isis victims in particular. But the case for returning her and dealing with her via the police and – if appropriate – the courts has already been made. It is set out in the counter-terrorism strategy issued by the government last year, which specifically includes the example of a British woman who travelled to join Isis and now has a newborn baby coming back to the UK. It is also established via the treatment of other returning Isis recruits, including fighters, who have been dealt with in the courts; there is nothing to suggest that Ms Begum poses a greater risk, only that she has a higher and more embarrassing profile. And the case is all the stronger given that Ms Begum was groomed, left the UK as a minor and has experienced significant trauma.

Washing our hands of her is unfair to those currently holding her, and any other country which might theoretically take her. But it is also damaging to Britain, entrenching a sense that citizenship now has two tiers. Though the home secretary said deprivation powers are over a century old, they were barely used for a long time. Their use has escalated sharply; they have been used 150 times since 2010, reportedly more than 100 times in 2017 alone. This is in part because the restraints on their use have been gradually loosened. In 2014, then home secretary Theresa May won the ability to strip naturalised terror suspects of their passports – even if it made them technically stateless – if she had “good reason” to believe they could become a citizen of another nation.

Such developments surely paved the way for this case. While it seems likely that the courts will be asked to decide on Ms Begum’s status, in the Commons Mr Javid discussed not only those who are now dual nationals but those who “in some circumstances … would have the right to citizenship elsewhere”. Many children of migrants will take note, feeling a little less safe and confident in their homeland. Jewish commentators have noted that their automatic right to Israeli citizenship might make them vulnerable.

Introducing last year’s counter-terrorism strategy, Mr Javid warned that terrorists seek to divide us and that our response must be proportionate and inclusive, and preserve our way of life. He has ignored his own tests in the case of Ms Begum, damaging social cohesion and our claim to uphold fundamental values against the likes of the murderous group she went to join.

Feb 20, 2019, 7:41pm Top

>39 davidgn: The Windrush scandal was the deportation of British citizens on spurious grounds, unless they themselves were able to provide evidence of continuous residence, because the British authorities had themselves destroyed the records that would have proved their right to reside in the UK.

It resulted in public outrage once the situation was publicized.

The British public has always opposed the return of those who voluntarily left the UK to fight for I.S. (There has been greater tolerance for those who may have become fighters after being in the controversial regions for family reasons.)

The Begum case is unusual in that there is no evidence that she was a direct combatant; however she is also one if the least repentant of prospective returnees.

Deprivation of citizenship for would-be returnees has happened before. The principle that by joining a state with which your country is at war, you relinquish your citizenship of your former residence may no longer have a legal basis, but it remains in popular consciousness.

The initial popular debate waa not about whether Shamima Begum's citizenship could be legally revoked (the legal distinction between dual nationals and those with only British citizenship not being widely known), but whether the fact that she was (a) never a combatant or (b) a minor when she committed the offence.

The public reaction is different because in the Windrush case it is clear that the government has acted illegally; in the current issue the illegality of the Home Secretary's action is not immediately apparent. The public desire for removal of citizenship was based on the reports of interviews with Shamima Begum and comparison with the treatment of earlier returning jihadis; the questions of law were not raised until after the Home Secretary made his announcement. The government should be aware of the illegality of their action, but it is hardly surprising that the public at large were not.

Feb 20, 2019, 7:57pm Top

>41 -pilgrim-: A fair point -- but one which only serves to underline the cynicism of the Home Secretary's political pandering.

Edited: Feb 20, 2019, 9:56pm Top

>35 davidgn: I should mention there are other means of losing one's U.S. citizenship, but none of these appear to apply in Muthana's case, and none are terribly clear-cut.


Loss of Nationality Must Be by Voluntary Act With Specific Intent
To lose U.S. nationality, a person must both (1) voluntarily perform any of seven “expatriating” acts defined by law, and (2) perform the act or acts with a conscious desire (or specific intent) to abandon (relinquish) his or her U.S. nationality.

The expatriating act must be voluntary and take any of seven forms
Committing any of the following acts will create a presumption that it was performed voluntarily with the idea of giving up U.S. citizenship, although the person may later be able to rebut (disprove) this presumption:

* Becoming a naturalized citizen of another country after age 18.
* Formally declaring allegiance to a foreign government after age 18.
* Accepting a position in the government of another country after age 18, if one has citizenship in, or declared allegiance to, that country.
* Joining the military force of another country either (1) in any capacity if that country is engaged in hostilities against the U.S., or (2) as an officer.
* Formally renouncing U.S. nationality abroad before a U.S. diplomatic or consular officer.
* Formally renouncing U.S. nationality in the U.S. when the U.S. is at war, if done in writing and with the approval of the U.S. Department of Justice.
* Being convicted of treason or participating in any attempt to overthrow the U.S. government.


For all the acts listed above, it is not enough to appear to commit the act--even voluntarily--to lose U.S. nationality; the person must also commit the act in order to relinquish the nationality.
Any evidence of lack of intent, or evidence of intent to retain any of the rights or privileges of citizenship, could be used by the State Department to reject the act of renunciation.

Thus, for example, an expressed desire to continue living in the U.S. would be evidence of intent to retain one’s U.S. nationality, and the age, mental capabilities, demeanor or other special circumstances of a would-be renunciant could be used as evidence of lack of intent to relinquish the nationality.

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 3:58am Top

I believe Court decisions made dual nationality legal for an American?

As a practical matter, my understanding is that it's not easy to renounce US citizenship. There was a rash of such renunciations after the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (2010) that targets overseas tax evasion. A lot of little guys got caught up as the law was enforced, e.g., Canadians born in US would find themselves afoul of IRS requirements to file annual reports even if no US taxes owed. Such paperwork still required 10 years after renouncing one's citizenship, I think.

Similarly, one may not owe US taxes on a foreign inheritance, but the IRS can take a chunk of it if you fail to report it.

Uncle Sam wants you – if you’re an American in Canada (or at least your tax)
BARRIE McKENNA | Dec. 30 2012, 7:00 PM EST

3,000 Americans ditch their passports
Sophia Yan | February 17, 2014

Meet the 'accidental American' with a big tax bill
Sophia Yan | December 15, 2014

Uncle Sam says my Swedish kid is American
Sophia Yan | March 11, 2015

Beware the risks of renouncing your U.S. citizenship in Canada
Paul Gallant | September 18, 2015

Feb 21, 2019, 8:03am Top

>42 davidgn: On that we are in complete agreement.

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 10:31am Top

>26 davidgn:

you cite Murray as follows: (in part)

..."To refuse to accept first generation Britons are Britons, as in Windrush, was bad enough. To claim that second generation Britons are not British, but rather citizens of where their ancestors “came from”, is racism pure and simple." ...

and you tell us that you weren't aware that Shamima Begum was born in Britain. So much for your awareness of details.

>38 -pilgrim-: points up other aspects of your ignorance: "Thus, since she could claim this, she would not be left stateless by the removal of her British citizenship."

I'll add one which I suppose shall also shock you, as I found it rather shocking.

A young woman (currently aged approx. 16 yrs.) born in Britain (England) to a natural-born English father (citizen of the U.K.) and a mother of a Scandinavian nationality (a legal resident alien in Britain at the time she gave birth to this, her and the English father's, daughter) is not, I repeat, not a British citizen by birth or any other criteria according to British law, I was told. Why? Because and only because her parents were not married at the time of her birth.

Whether a child born today in these same circumstances would be a legal citizen of Britain I don't know; what I do know is that this young woman could not obtain a British passport. In the end, she applied for and was granted a passport from her mother's (Scandinavian) home-country and she uses that to enter or leave Britain.

RE: >38 -pilgrim-: 's "A potential citizenship does not exist until it has been claimed."

That's not a hard and fast rule. There are certainly cases in which such citizenship "vests" whether "claimed", i.e. acted upon or not.

An obvious example is the state of Israel's recognition of Jews, wherever born or resident from their birth (according, of course, to the definition of "Jewish" according to Israeli law and the laws and current customs of Judaic practice in Israel) who may at any time claim, assert, this citizenship and are deemed to be de facto citizens of Israel by virtue of their being Jewish (as the state of Israel defines that); thus, it is theirs to have and use whether taken up or not.

In my own case as a U.S. and U.K. dual-national, I was not obliged to take any positive act to "claim" my U.K. (or, for that matter, my U.S.) nationality. These were a feature of my identity from birth per the then-existing laws of nationality in each case. Today, a child born in my same circumstances would not have dual U.S. and U.K. citizenship. He or she would be, instead, a citizen of the United States only.

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 10:42am Top

So, it appears the order not to let Muthana back into the country came from Trump himself, who singled her out.


I have instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 20, 2019


The issue of her father's immigration status at the time of her birth is confirmed to be behind State's reasoning here. The facts there will need to be sorted out in court.

The State Department spokesperson said, "There are many reasons that an individual previously issued a passport may subsequently be found ineligible for that passport."
"If it is determined that the bearer was not entitled to the issued passport, the passport may be revoked and/or a renewal application denied," they said.

One hell of a ex post facto gotcha, but I'm betting the ruling is spurious and politically-driven. Should make an interesting court case.

Brookings weighs in:
The bigger issue is the precedent the Trump administration sets. Even as Trump is gleefully blocking Muthana’s return, he is urging Europe to take back 800 of its own foreign fighters. Some European states have tough laws and strong security services, but many do not. And even for the countries with competent services, the sheer volume of fighters will be a strain. Politically, the pressure on governments by a population bruised by terrorism and increasingly anti-Muslim is often intense. Many European leaders are looking for an excuse not to take back their citizens, and this decision will give them an excuse.

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 10:40am Top

>46 proximity1: What I said was that I had not, prior to reading Murray, been aware of that fact. So much for your reading comprehension.

Feb 21, 2019, 10:45am Top

RE: "The Begum case is unusual in that there is no evidence that she was a direct combatant; however she is also one if the least repentant of prospective returnees."

No kidding.

Take her case for example. I don't know the details concerning whether or not Britain is formally ( i.e. legally) in a state of war with ISIS, which, after all, is not a nation-state but an insurgency, but I do know that if Begum were a U.S. citizen and had done the same, and there had been at the time of her ex-patriation, a legal state of war declared between the government of the United States and ISIS (or some other similar terrorist group), then Begum would qualify as a traitor* under the very strict definition of that term in the Constitution--provided only that there could be produced in open court merely two direct witnesses to her commission of the same overt Act consisting of her having adher(ed) to their Enemies, giv(en) them Aid and Comfort"-- not all that hard to do in principle, though in practice it may be rather difficult to get the witnesses to appear and cooperate in a court appearance.


* Treason (Article III, Section 3:

"Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court." ...

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 11:03am Top

>49 proximity1: In which hypothetical case, she ought to be allowed to return home and face trial for treason.

Edited: Feb 22, 2019, 5:17am Top

>48 davidgn:

"What I said was that I had not, prior to reading Murray, been aware of that fact."

Which was, after all, my point: you weren't up on the facts of Shamima Begum's birth before you'd read this piece by Murray-- as though Murray is somehow one of just a very few sources of that key information. It did seem to me that just a casual acquaintance with the facts should have been adequate to have become aware--through any news source reporting on the story-- that Shamima Begum was a British-born citizen.


Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 10:59am Top

>51 proximity1: As it happened, I had not otherwise been following the case, beyond having seen a headline or two. So sue me.

Edited: Feb 22, 2019, 5:18am Top

>50 davidgn:

I think it might depend. ("IANAL") or an expert in Military justice. But, if there were a state of war declared by Congress and duly signed by the president (or, indeed, declared and passed over his veto--though this has ("yet to happen") never happened in the U.S.) Shamima Begum might qualify under military law as an "enemy"--in which case she might face a court-martial--though of course she'd contest that course of events and almost certainly assert that she had never worn a uniform of an opposed force nor taken up arms against the United States. Neither of these latter are strictly required for a charge of treason to apply.

However, if she objected to being classified as a formal enemy combatant, she'd probably have a good case for that assertion. Still, it beggars belief to imagine her voluntarily coming to the U.S. to face trial on a charge of treason. Given what we know about her, she'd stay well away from entering the U.S.

I also don't know the details of the British law regarding treason. But, if Britain's government operates on the legal view of there being a state of war between Britain and ISIS (in this case). then I could imagine it being quite likely that she'd qualify as liable to be charged under law for treason against Britain and run the risk of whatever penalties a conviction for that offense carried.


The Treason Felony Act 1848 (11 & 12 Vict. c. 12) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Parts of the Act are still in force. It is a law which protects the Queen and the Crown.

“It is treason felony to "compass, imagine, invent, devise, or intend":

• to deprive the Queen of her crown,

• to levy war against the Queen, or

• to "move or stir" any foreigner to invade the United Kingdom or any other country belonging to the Queen.”

So it appears that these terms could put Shamima Begum in the jack-pot for a charge of treason. She ought to have to stay with the insurgency, or, having fled it, take her chances wherever she can find refuge outside of Britain; she went to take up residence in territory which she knew to be held by an insurgent force and she did this, by all indications, fully voluntarily. If, later, she discovered that this was a stupendous blunder, I regard that as being her problem. Let her be an example to others who may be tempted to do the same.

Feb 21, 2019, 11:21am Top

>52 davidgn:

"So sue me."


No need. I'm quite satisfied to simply point out the obvious:

You post comments in ignorance, without bothering to inform yourself of the facts before hand.

"Case closed."

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 11:28am Top

>51 proximity1: We were discussing Shamina Begum, not Sharmeena Begum. The (incorrectly-selected) Wikipedia article you yourself cited explicitly notes that these are two distinct individuals who attended the same school. So much for your awareness of details.

eta >54 proximity1: And exactly where in this case did I post anything before I had informed myself of the facts? I had not previously posted anything at all regarding Begum -- neither the Begum we were discussing, nor the alternate Begum upon whom you have tripped.

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 11:33am Top

>54 proximity1:

"We were discussing Shamina (Sic) Begum, not Sharmeena Begum. The (incorrectly-selected) Wikipedia article you yourself cited explicitly notes that these are two distinct individuals who attended the same school. So much for your awareness of details."


That ought to be "Shamima," not "Shamina." For my part, in all but one instance, I get the correct person's fore-name spelled correctly. Not too shabby. I was, it's true, directed by a key-word search to the incorrect Wikipedia page. But, where the facts are concerned here, in my posts, they are all in accord with the person named and described as "Shamima Begum."

Feb 21, 2019, 11:41am Top

>55 davidgn: "And exactly where in this case did I post anything before I had informed myself of the facts?"

You make this tedious.

Per >38 -pilgrim-:

"As I understand it, you are misrepresenting the (spurious) grounds for depriving Shamima Begum of British citizenship. It is not that her parental background somehow dilutes her British citizenship."

Feb 21, 2019, 12:20pm Top

>46 proximity1: Under current British law, a child born in the UK after 2006, with one parent either born in the UK or a naturalized citizen at the time of birth, is a British citizen by birth. However, if born before 2006, they only receive citizenship through the father if their parents were married at the time.

Source: https://www.gov.uk/types-of-british-nationality/british-citizenship

>53 proximity1: "Giving aid and comfort to the Queen's enemies, within the realm or elsewhere" certainly leaves Shamima Begum answerable to a charge of treason, even without her being a combatant.

But I agree with davidgn that she should stand trial for her actions, and face the charge of treason to which, as a British citizen, she is liable.
It is reprehensible that the Home Secretary has taken a route which is probably illegal, rather than use the existing British law.
(As to any obligation to helping her return to the UK, as she initially was requesting, that is a separate issue. I see no obligation of the state to repatriate her from a location that she reached voluntarily.)

Edited: Feb 21, 2019, 4:38pm Top

>57 proximity1: Now you're just buffaloing. I hadn't made clear the separation between my assessment of the legal situation and my assessment (or, really, my citation of Murray's assessment) of the civic and social implications. -pilgrim- understandably found my position less than clear. I subsequently clarified.

No point arguing further.

Edited: Feb 22, 2019, 7:39am Top

Some further thoughts on why Shamima Begum should have been brought to trial for her actions:
  • She has made some of the most unrepentant pro-IS statements of any would-be returnee. But she has made them from within a refugee camp filled with IS refugees, who have fled the bombing.

    From the Vietnam War onwards we have had the spectacle of prisoner-of-war and hostages making statements critical of their own countries and praising the regime under whose control they are. Some of these have subsequently stood trial for treason; but the principle has been established that people who are being controlled by violent groups sometimes make treasonous statements out of fear.

    Shamima Begum is more culpable, in that she voluntarily placed herself in IS hands. Nevertheless she is a young woman alone, with a baby to protect, in an environment beyond the rule of law. It is understandable that she would be unwilling to criticise a violent regime whilst living among its supporters.

  • She has been quoted as saying the Manchester bombing was "justified" - but then was horrified to learn that children were killed. Women under IS are secluded and strictly controlled. To what extent does the version of IS that she supports correspond to reality?

  • When teenage girls are groomed online and run away to have relationships with adult men, we recognise this as paedophilia, and that the girls are victims. Does the fact that she has been incited to commit treason in the process change this basic dynamic?

    Of course, to assume that she must have been misled is to deny the possibility that young women consciously make bad choices. It could well be thst she genuinely remains ideologically committed to IS. If so, she deserves the penalties appropriate to the crime.

    My point is simply that these issues should be addressed in a court of law. Not by having the verdict pre-empted by the Home Secretary's fiat. We have a legal system; we should use it, not administer "justice" through illegal actions pandering to popular outrage.

    And if that sounds too idealistic, consider also this: how IS recruits young muslim men and women is a continuing concern for Western nations. The Home Secretary's action has lost us the opportunity to find out details of the process from someone, in whose interest it would definitely be to cooperate fully with the security services.
  • 61proximity1
    Feb 22, 2019, 5:37am Top

    >60 -pilgrim-:

    " The Home Secretary's action has lost us the opportunity to find out details of the process from someone, in whose interest it would definitely be to cooperate fully with the security services."


    If there's one compelling point which moves me most in your summary it's your observation that Begum represents a potentially very valuable source of inside information for the British intelligence services' use concerning the group(s) with which she was associated while in insurgent-territory; this is true despite the fact that, as a woman, she may not have had the same access to people, the same knowledge, that a man who might have taken active part in the fighting could have gained.

    Skilled interrogators routinely get quite valuable intelligence even from the most recalcitrant of subjects. Often these subjects aren't necessarily aware of what is or isn't useful information to the intelligence services and will give away valuable information unwittingly; others can begin stubbornly refusing to cooperate and eventually come to decide that they want to help authorities fight groups which are, beyond any question, terrorists without a shred of ideological justification for their violence.

    So, most intelligence agencies would, I think, argue that it is folly to waste such valuable opportunities to gain helpful information.

    Feb 25, 2019, 1:06pm Top

    Hoda Muthana and Shamima Begum: Citizenship and Expatriation in the U.S. and U.K.
    Jonathan Shaub | February 25, 2019

    ...Both the United States and the United Kingdom have rejected the women’s pleas to return home, claiming the women have no right to return because they are not citizens. But those claims appear to rest on entirely different foundations.

    The U.K. has asserted its intent to strip (Shamima) Begum of her British citizenship. Under a British law passed shortly after 9/11 and since amended, the government can revoke an individual’s citizenship if it is “conducive to the public good” and would not leave an individual stateless....

    The U.S. has also indicated that it will not allow (Hoda) Muthana to return. But the grounds for that position are not entirely clear. In a statement, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserted that “Ms. Hoda Muthana is not a U.S. citizen and will not be admitted to the United States. She does not have any legal basis, no valid U.S. passport, no right to a passport, nor any visa to travel to the United States.” President Trump also weighed in on Twitter, affirming that he had “instructed Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and he fully agrees, not to allow Hoda Muthana back into the Country!” Pompeo has asserted that Muthana has never been a citizen because she was born to a foreign diplomat.

    ...Reports indicate that Begum may have, or may be able to acquire, Bangladeshi citizenship because her mother holds a Bangladeshi passport. But Bangladesh has asserted that Begum is “not a Bangladeshi citizen” and has “never applied for dual nationality with Bangladesh.”

    The U.K. may revoke her citizenship even if she is not presently a Bangladeshi citizen, however. That is because under current law, revocation is still permissible if the government “has reasonable grounds for believing that the person is able, under the law of a country or territory outside the United Kingdom to become a national of such a country or territory.”

    ...the question of whether Muthana was ever a U.S. citizen is largely dependent on the facts surrounding her birth and the status of her father at that time. (whether he was foreign diplomatic officer) Little attention has been paid to the status of Muthana’s mother, but the lawsuit filed on Muthana’s behalf claims that her mother’s status as a lawful permanent resident also makes her a citizen.

    ...if Muthana is, in fact, a U.S. citizen, she likely has a fundamental—and perhaps absolute—right to return to the United States. Any action taken by the government to thwart or infringe on that right would raise significant constitutional issues.

    But why can’t the United States do as the United Kingdom has done with Begum and strip Muthana of her citizenship, thus extinguishing her right to return and resolving the constitutional issues? The answer lies in the different conceptions of citizenship in the two countries and the concept of expatriation...

    ...Ultimately, the parallel situations of Muthada and Begum illustrate the sharply different approaches to citizenship—and its revocation—adopted by the United States and United Kingdom. And the discrepancy highlights an area of U.S. constitutional law that has historically been of utmost importance but has largely faded from the collective consciousness. Whatever the end result for these two young women who left their homes to join the Islamic State and currently find themselves unable to return, the issue is not likely to go away. The legal disputes and court challenges over Begum’s and Muthana’s respective statuses are only in the initial stages. Their resolution may set a precedent for the future disposition of similar cases and clarify important principles about citizenship. At the very least, Muthana’s case will hopefully establish that the determination of whether a person claiming to be a U.S. citizen may return home cannot be resolved by a cursory statement or tweet but requires careful examination of the relevant facts, pertinent laws and fundamental constitutional principles.


    Feb 25, 2019, 3:37pm Top

    >62 margd: Thank you, that was a very interesting comparison. But I am unclear; if, per Pompeo, Hoda Muthana was "never a U.S. citizen", how was she able to hold, and travel to Syria on, a U.S. passport?

    Edited: Feb 25, 2019, 4:48pm Top

    >63 -pilgrim-: Presumably because the passport was issued in error. Which, as a hypothetical scenario, is not as far-fetched as it sounds. Rightly or wrongly, a U.S. birth certificate is almost always taken as proof of citizenship, because with Constitutional jus soli citizenship, anyone possessing a legitimate one (eta indicating birth on U.S. soil) is thereby a U.S. citizen in 99.xx% of cases. The exceptions are rare and tricky.

    Again, I expect the state's argument here is spurious and will ultimately fall flat. But that's the basis upon which they are arguing.

    Edited: Feb 25, 2019, 4:39pm Top

    U.S. v. Moreno is interesting here.

    Claudia Marquez Moreno appeals her conviction for falsely and willfully representing herself as a United States citizen in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 911. Her principal argument is that her validly issued passport constitutes conclusive proof of U.S. citizenship under 22 U.S.C. § 2705. For this reason, she alleges that the government failed to prove lack of citizenship and that the District Court erred in denying her motion for acquittal. Because we hold that, under the language of 22 U.S.C. § 2705, a passport constitutes conclusive proof of citizenship only if the passport was issued to a U.S. citizen, we will affirm the District Court’s judgment.

    By its text, § 2705 provides that a passport will serve as conclusive proof of citizenship only if it was “issued by the Secretary of State to a citizen of the United States.” 22 U.S.C. § 2705 (emphasis added). Under the plain meaning of the statute, a passport is proof of citizenship only if its holder was actually a citizen of the United States when the passport was issued. Under the language of the statute, the logical premise needed to establish conclusive proof of citizenship co nsists of two independent conditions: (1) having a valid passport and (2) being a U.S. citizen. The second condition is not necessarily satisfied when the first condition is satisfied. For example, the Secretary of State issues passports not only to U.S. citizens but also to U.S. nationals. See 22 C.F.R. § 50.4 (noting that United States nationals may apply for a United States passport); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1101(22) (“The term ‘national of the United States’ means (A) a citizen of the United States, or (B) a person who, though not a citizen of the United States, owes permanent allegiance to the United States.”).Here, Moreno satisfies the first condition but not the second: she has a valid U.S. passport but is not a U.S. citizen—and was not one at the time the passport was issued.

    As a result, this textual interpretation of the statute leads to the conclusion that the District Court properly denied Moreno’s Rule 29 motion for acquittal because, under § 2705, a valid U.S. passport serves as conclusive proof of U.S. citizenship only if the passport was issued to a U.S. citizen, which Moreno is not. This is an issue of first impression in the Third Circuit. Moreno argues that other courts that have interpreted § 2705as establishing that a valid passport is conclusive proof of U.S. citizenship. See, e.g.,Vana v. Att’y Gen., 341 F. App’x 836, 839 (3d Cir. 2009) (per curiam) (“A United States passport is considered to be conclusive proof of United States citizenship . . . .”); Magnuson v. Baker, 911 F.2d 330, 333 (9th Cir. 1990) (“Through section 2705, Congress authorized passport holders to use the passport as conclusive proof of citizenship.”) (dictum); Edwards v. Bryson, 884 F. Supp. 2d 202, 206 (E.D. Pa. 2012) (finding the holder of an expired valid U.S. passport to be a U.S. citizen and reasoning that “to hold otherwise, would lessen the import of a passport as compared to that of a certificate of naturalization or a certificate of citizenship, which is exactly what § 2705 forbids . . . .”); United States v. Clarke, 628 F. Supp. 2d 15, 21 (D.D.C. 2009) (“§ 2705 puts passports in the same status as certificates of naturalization for the purpose of proving U.S. citizenship.”); In re Villanueva, 19 I. & N. Dec. 101, 103 (B.I.A. 1984) (“Accordingly, we hold that unless void on its face, a valid United States passport issued to an individual as a citizen of the United States is not subject to collateral attack in administrative immigration proceedings but constitutes conclusive proof of such person’sUnited States citizenship.”).

    However, we are not bound by these cases and believe that this interpretation is atextual because it effectively reads the phrase “to a citizen of the United States” out of the statute. Thus, it does not give effect to the statute as written.3“Where the text of a statute is unambiguous, the statute should be enforced as written and only the most extraordinary showing of contrary intentions in the legislative history will justify a departure from that language.” In re Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC, 599 F.3d 298, 314 (3d Cir. 2010) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). Because the text of § 2705 is unambiguous, we hold that a passport is conclusive proof of citizenship only if its holder was actually a citizen of the United States when it was issued.

    I wonder which Circuit would have jurisdiction if Muthana's case were to be tried and appealed. 11th, for Alabama?

    Edited: Feb 25, 2019, 5:27pm Top

    A parallel Canadian case with comparable circumstances. Interestingly, appeal was denied.


    Budlakoti was born on October 17, 1989 in Ottawa, Ontario, to Indian nationals who had been employed at the Indian High Commission.45 Section 3(2) of the Citizenship Act states that children of diplomats and their staff, when born in Canada, are not entitled to Canadian citizenship.6 The Government of Canada alleged that at the time of Budlakoti's birth, his parents were working as cleaning staff at the High Commission;7 Budlakoti contended that his parents had left that job several months prior.8 After his birth, Budlakoti was issued an Ontario birth certificate, and subsequently two Canadian passports.910 In 1992, Budlakoti's parents applied for permanent residency, listing Budlakoti as a dependent. The application was accepted.11

    In late 2010, Budlakoti was convicted for weapons trafficking, firearm possession and cocaine trafficking, and sentenced to three years in prison.121 The Justice for Deepan Support Committee, which works with Budlakoti to raise awareness about the case, raise money for escalating legal fees, and put political pressure on elected officials to reverse the decision,13 contends that Budlakoti was entrapped by an undercover police officer, and that Budlakoti pleaded guilty due to the high legal fees.13

    While Budlakoti was in prison, Citizenship and Immigration Canada determined that he was not and had never been a Canadian citizen, and thus was inadmissible to Canada on the basis of section 36(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act,114 and issued a removal order accordingly.15 Budlakoti was released in 2012 while awaiting judicial review of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada's decision. As a result, Budlakoti lost all other corresponding Canadian identification, leaving him unable to work, access health care, exercise the full extent of his mobility rights, and live alone.16

    At trial
    In June 2014, Budlakoti's case was heard before the Federal Court. Budlakoti argued that his section 7 Charter rights to life, liberty, and security of the person were violated. In the fall of 2014, the Federal Court dismissed Budlakoti's application for judicial review, holding that "the fact that passports were issued to the Applicant is not, in this case, determinative of citizenship".17 The court found that issuing a declaration of citizenship would fall outside the court's authority.18 The court dismissed Budlakoti's section 7 Charter argument, finding that "denial of citizenship is not synonymous with deportation",19 and that "the denial of state funded health care does not violate s 7", per Chaoulli v Quebec (AG).20

    Budlakoti appealed to the Federal Court of Appeal, where the appeal was dismissed. The court held that Budlakoti was not stateless, per the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, since he could still "take steps to apply for citizenship in India and in Canada"21 through the general citizenship application process, or by invoking the "special and unusual hardship" rule in the Citizenship Act.22 The court found that he had not yet availed himself of either of these procedures in Canada or in India.23 Budlakoti argued that then-Minister of Citizenship Chris Alexander was biased, as a spokesperson for Alexander had previously denounced Budlakoti as a "criminal".24 The court rejected this argument, finding that if Budlakoti applied under the "special and unusual hardship" rule, the hardship would be "determinative... and neither the Minister nor his officials have commented on that issue".25

    A request for leave for appeal to the Supreme Court was denied in January 2016.126

    This case is unique and has attracted international attention. Amnesty International has condemned the Canadian government's actions,27 arguing that as a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness,28 Canada should "act to reduce statelessness and uphold the right to a nationality".27

    Another example of States Behaving Badly, as far as I'm concerned, if Budlakoti's contentions are accurate. In any event, the denial of judicial review of those contentions strikes me as a failure of justice on its face. The fact that Budlakoti is a personally unsympathetic character (not to say a rather nasty piece of work) should have no bearing on the question of his citizenship status.

    Edited: Feb 25, 2019, 5:36pm Top

    States Behaving Badly...

    Before 1980s, young children admitted to the US by virtue of adoption, if their adoptive parents failed to file citizenship papers and as teenagers, the kids committed felony (DUI in some states), were repatriated to their home countries--not knowing the language or anybody there. I recall a couple cases to South America and to Thailand. The Orphan Citizenship Act (since revised so different names since) made the kids American once adoption was finalized--no additional paperwork required.

    Still, there a few old cases that pop up from time to time, e.g., http://www.fox9.com/news/minnesota-community-reacts-to-korean-adoptees-deportati... .

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 5:52am Top

    >64 davidgn: !?!?!? LOL! What a load of hooey! "Presumably because the passport was issued in error."

    A passport is a state-issued travel document. It doesn't confer citizenship and its issue to a citizen is conditional and done at the discretion of the state authority which issues it. Muthana could indeed have been denied a passport had there been some legitimate ground for denying it. That denial would have nothing necessarily to do with her nationality or status as a U.S. citizen. Plenty of U.S. citizens don't have and cannot obtain a valid passport for one of a number of reasons.

    ... "a U.S. birth certificate is almost always taken as proof of citizenship," ...

    "Almost always"!?

    The Constitution and a series of court rulings makes the conditions of U.S. citizenship quite clear.

    Amendment XIV

    Section 1.

    "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the state wherein they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any state deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

    >63 -pilgrim-: ... "if, per Pompeo, Hoda Muthana was "never a U.S. citizen", how was she able to hold, and travel to Syria on, a U.S. passport?"

    Muthana is, "God help us!", a citizen of the United States and has been ever since her birth in Alabama, Mike Pompeo's and Donald Trump's comments and wishes about it notwithstanding.

    Under U.S. law, unlike that of Britain, a citizen of the United States cannot suffer the unilateral revocation of citizenship nor lose citizenship other than by his or her own voluntary renouncement--and this is deliberately made a very difficult process to complete for those whose lives are already marginal.

    A simple signed letter to the Department of State from a citizen declaring his or her intention to renounce U.S. citizenship won't be received and acted on. There are forms to be filled out, meetings and interviews with government officers, and, most insulting of all, one is asked to justify, giving specific reasons, why he wants to renounce citizenship; then there are waiting periods and witnesses attesting to the citizen's soundness of mind required.

    Feb 26, 2019, 6:31am Top

    >68 proximity1: and subject to the jurisdiction thereof

    Ever heard of diplomatic immunity?


    You might want to actually read the thread above before giving your two cents.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 7:29am Top

    >69 davidgn:

    I don't know of course but I have a hunch you've applied for and obtained a U.S. passport, right? Do you recall the process? You filled out an application; in that application, you were asked to state your nationality. When I applied for my U.S. passport originally (as an adult) I answered "U.S." at that point. I also had to document that claim by submitting with my passport application an original document showing how I was entitled to claim U.S. nationality. I produced two documents:

    One, an official sealed-copy of my of my British birth certificate indicating that both of my parents were U.S. citizens, and, secondly, an official document issued by the State department's nearest consular offices in Britain at the time, a typed, signed and sealed "Consular Report of Birth Abroad of a Citizen of the United States of America (CRBA)", with all the details of my birth and the details of my parents' U.S. nationality by birth.

    And, wonder of wonders! when I received my valid passport for the first time, it read, at "Nationality:" "U.S. citizen."

    If Muthana wasn't entitled to apply for and obtain a U.S. passport, what documents do you suppose she submitted at the time of her passport application to support a declaration of her nationality?

    Had she not had a valid status as a U.S. citizen, she could not have been issued a U.S. passport which, under "Nationality", reads "U.S. citizen," no matter her father's or mother's status as a foreign diplomat on assignment to the United States.

    Her U.S. passport application would have been returned as declined on the basis that she, as a foreign national, should apply to her "home" nation, that is, the state of which she is a legal national by virtue of her parents' nationality--passed to her as a child born to parents abroad, as as my own were when I was born.

    Typically, a diplomat's legal offspring are recognized as a citizen of the state for which the diplomat is on foreign diplomatic duty, right?

    Like it or hate it, Muthana is a legal citizen of the United States from birth unless she takes positive steps to renounce that status--apart from whatever nationalities which she may be legally eligible to assert a claim; that depends not on the point of view of the U.S. government but, rather, on the foreign state(s) to which she might have a nationality claim, as, in my own case, the United Kingdom of Britain, etc.


    By the way, all people born within the United States, regardless of their parent(s)' foreign nationality or diplomatic status are "subject to the jurisdiction" of the United States and of the state thereof in which they are born. Children born in the U.S. to foreign-nationals who are accredited diplomats on duty in the U.S. do not enjoy diplomatic immunity in the U.S. They are fully subject to the jurisdiction of the state and federal governments.



    "Amid this debate, however, there is one area of solid agreement among advocates on all sides of the debate: In the least, children born to foreign diplomats are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States and are therefore not to be granted U.S. citizenship.2"


    Home Report Birthright Citizenship for Children of Foreign Diplomats?
    Birthright Citizenship for Children of Foreign Diplomats?

    Limiting Language in the 14th Amendment’s Citizenship Clause Has No Practical Effect
    By Jon Feere on July 11, 2011



    I don't give a shit about "all sides of the debate." I want to know what current controlling law says in support of your claims here. SO:

    Fine: cite the statute or the case-law which confirms that & I'll be glad to retract my assertions to the contrary. Until then, I consider this claim that "children born (in the U.S.) to foreign diplomats are not “subject to the jurisdiction” of the United States and are therefore not to be granted U.S. citizenship" to be both false and ridiculous. I'll wait.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 7:07am Top

    Typically, a diplomat's legal offspring are recognized as a citizen of the state for which the diplomat is on foreign diplomatic duty, right? In theory, yes. In practice, things go awry. You might try reading the CIS report. I didn't link to it gratuitously.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 7:26am Top

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 7:49am Top

    >70 proximity1: I think the relevant Supreme Court ruling is U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark. See pp. 682-688.

    Also 8 U.S. Code § 1401 (though for the interpretation of "subject to the jurisdiction thereof," I believe reliance would still be on U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark)


    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 8:54am Top

    >71 davidgn:


    U.S. Dept. of State, Office of Foreign Missions : Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: Guidance for Law Enforcement and Judicial Authorities"

    "Privileges and Immunities"


    The VCDR, VCCR, and certain bilateral agreements govern the privileges and immunities for diplomatic missions, consular posts, and their personnel and families. Certain representatives to IOs and officers and employees of IOs may enjoy privileges and immunities under the IOIA and various agreements.

    In the case of accredited embassy or consular staff enjoying some level of privileges and immunities whose assignment lasts more than six years, the Department may seek confirmation of continued posting by transmitting a note directly to the sending state’s ministry of foreign affairs.

    Articles 37 and 38 of the VCDR and Article 71 of the VCCR generally provide that mission members and their families enjoy limited or no privileges and immunities if they are nationals of or permanently resident in the receiving State. Consequently, the mission must promptly notify the Department when any employee or family member obtains LPR status or U.S. citizenship, and it is understood that privileges and immunities will be withdrawn whenever appropriate. As noted above, diplomatic agents and career consular officers are not permitted to be U.S. citizens or LPRs."

    these pertain to privileges and immunities due to foreign nationals who are accredited diplomats on service in the United States. While it expressly states that such foreign "agents" 's then-family-members are entitled to the same privileges and immunities, it is not clear that this includes those born to the diplomat(s) in the United States while the diplomat is on accredited duty there. The strict construction of the terms would be that those members of the diplomat's family (at the time his accreditation is received) are covered equally by the privileges and immunities granted to foreign diplomats. Being born in the U.S. is obviously not the same as a family member of the diplomat who was born abroad and came to the U.S. as a foreign national.


    Under modern international law (reflected
    in the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic
    Relations), however, there are different
    categories of persons within each diplomatic
    mission, some of whom enjoy greater
    immunities than others.

    The categories of diplomatic mission personnel
    are defined primarily with reference to the
    functions performed. (1)

    “Diplomatic agent” is the term for ambassadors and the other
    diplomatic officers who generally have the
    function of dealing directly with host country
    officials. This category enjoys the highest
    degree of immunity.

    ... ...

    Family members forming part of the household
    of diplomatic agents enjoy precisely the same
    privileges and immunities as do the sponsoring
    diplomatic agents.(3)


    (Note) (3) : "3 The United States defines members of the household to include: spouses, children until the age of 21 (until the age of 23 if they are full-time students at an institution of higher learning), and such other persons expressly agreed to by the U.S. Department of State in extraordinary circumstances"

    Note that children aged 21 or older of foreign diplomats resident in the U.S. (unless they are "full-time students at an institution of higher learning") are not entitled to the privileges and immunities of their younger siblings--all children of the diplomat under the age of 21 years.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 8:19am Top

    >74 proximity1: Being born in the U.S. is obviously not the same as a family member of the diplomat who was born abroad and came to the U.S. as a foreign national. You're right, it's not, quite. Actually, there's probably a good law review piece to be written by someone interested in digging into the fissures here. But whether or not diplomatic immunity is extended to the newborn as a matter of practice or policy is not relevant to the clear and precise determination in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark regarding the children born of foreign diplomats being exempt from the 14th Amendment's citizenship clause, which is in turn grounded in extensive precedent.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 8:58am Top

    >75 davidgn:


    Unfortunately, U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark (169 U.S. 649) (1898) does not fit the context here; actually that's too bad since, if it did, it would support my view rather than yours. Wong was not born to diplomat parents accredited to service in the U.S. at the time of the diplomat's children's birth.

    What we need is a clear ruling somewhere in law or statute or administrative law which specifies that children born in the United States to accredited foreign diplomats, on duty in the U.S. are formally and expressly excluded from U.S. citizenship per the Constitution's Amendment XIV, section I.

    I haven't been able to find any such modern court ruling or statute; and, under English common law, the often-cited Calvin's Case,(1) also known as the Case of the Postnati doesn't, as far as I can tell, settle this matter. (Wikipedia)

    In the case of United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), the Supreme Court was presented with the following question:

    “(Whether a) child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States, by virtue of the first clause of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.’

    The decision centered upon the 14th Amendment's reference to "jurisdiction", and concluded:

    " the Fourteenth Amendment affirms the ancient and fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the territory, in the allegiance and under the protection of the country, including all children here born of resident aliens, with the exceptions or qualifications (as old as the rule itself) of children of foreign sovereigns or their ministers, or born on foreign public ships, or of enemies within and during a hostile occupation of part of our territory, and with the single additional exception of children of members of the Indian tribes owing direct allegiance to their several tribes. The Amendment, in clear words and in manifest intent, includes the children born, within the territory of the United States, of all other persons, of whatever race or color, domiciled within the United States. Every citizen or subject of another country, while domiciled here, is within the allegiance and the protection, and consequently subject to the jurisdiction, of the United States. His allegiance to the United States is direct and immediate, and, although but local and temporary, continuing only so long as he remains within our territory, is yet, in the words of Lord Coke in Calvin's Case, 7 Rep. 6a, "strong enough to make a natural subject, for if he hath issue here, that issue is a natural-born subject;" and his child, as said by Mr. Binney in his essay before quoted, ‘if born in the country, is as much a citizen as the natural-born child of a citizen, and by operation of the same principle.’ “


    (Wikipedia : United States v. Wong Kim Ark )


    (1) Calvin's Case (1572) , 77 ER 377; (1608) Co Rep 1a

    Feb 26, 2019, 8:54am Top

    >76 proximity1: Mr. Wong Kim Ark's personal circumstances notwithstanding, the decision in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark explicitly affirms, in passing, precisely that principle.

    However, you may be interested in 8 CFR § 101.3, which states that children born in such a situation are not citizens but are eligible for lawful permanent resident status at birth (but are not obliged to register for such)

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 9:03am Top

    >76 proximity1: Mr. Wong Kim Ark's personal circumstances notwithstanding, the decision in U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark explicitly affirms, in passing, precisely that principle.

    Possibly of interest to you will be 8 CFR § 101.3, which states that children born in such a situation are not citizens but are eligible for lawful permanent resident status at birth (but are not obliged to register for such)

    § 101.3 Creation of record of lawful permanent resident status for person born under diplomatic status in the United States.
    (a)Person born to foreign diplomat -

    (1)Status of person. A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Such a person may be considered a lawful permanent resident at birth.

    (2)Definition of foreign diplomatic officer. Foreign diplomatic officer means a person listed in the State Department Diplomatic List, also known as the Blue List. It includes ambassadors, ministers, chargés d'affaires, counselors, secretaries and attachés of embassies and legations as well as members of the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities. The term also includes individuals with comparable diplomatic status and immunities who are accredited to the United Nations or to the Organization of American States, and other individuals who are also accorded comparable diplomatic status.

    Edited: Feb 26, 2019, 11:41am Top

    >78 davidgn:

    (Wikipedia) United States v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. 649 (1898), is a United States Supreme Court case in which the Court ruled that "a child born in the United States, of parents of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China",(4) automatically became a U.S. citizen at birth.(5) This decision established an important precedent in its interpretation of the Citizenship Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution.(6)

    Opinion of the Court (Associate Justice Horace Gray, wrote the opinion of the Court)


    "In a 6–2 decision (116)(117) issued on March 28, 1898,(118) the Supreme Court held that Wong Kim Ark had acquired U.S. citizenship at birth and that "the American citizenship which Wong Kim Ark acquired by birth within the United States has not been lost or taken away by anything happening since his birth."(119) The opinion of the Court was written by Associate Justice Horace Gray and was joined by Associate Justices David J. Brewer, Henry B. Brown, George Shiras Jr., Edward Douglass White, and Rufus W. Peckham.(120)

    "Upholding the concept of jus soli (citizenship based on place of birth),(121) the Court held that the Citizenship Clause needed to be interpreted in light of English common law,(1) which had included as subjects virtually all native-born children, excluding only those who were born to foreign rulers or diplomats, born on foreign public ships, or born to enemy forces engaged in hostile occupation of the country's territory.(3)(122)(123) The court's majority held that the subject to the jurisdiction phrase in the Citizenship Clause excluded from U.S. citizenship only those persons covered by one of these three exceptions (plus a fourth 'single additional exception'—namely, that Indian tribes 'not taxed' were not considered subject to U.S. jurisdiction).(2)(63) The majority concluded that none of these four exceptions to U.S. jurisdiction applied to Wong; in particular, they observed that 'during all the time of their said residence in the United States, as domiciled residents therein, the said mother and father of said Wong Kim Ark were engaged in the prosecution of business, and were never engaged in any diplomatic or official capacity under the emperor of China'."(88)

    Note 5: U.S. v. Wong Kim Ark, 169 U.S. at 705. "The evident intention, and the necessary effect, of the submission of this case to the decision of the court upon the facts agreed by the parties were to present for determination the single question stated at the beginning of this opinion, namely, whether a child born in the United States, of parent "sic" of Chinese descent, who, at the time of his birth, are subjects of the Emperor of China, but have a permanent domicil and residence in the United States, and are there carrying on business, and are not employed in any diplomatic or official capacity under the Emperor of China, becomes at the time of his birth a citizen of the United States. For the reasons above stated, this court is of opinion that the question must be answered in the affirmative."

    ETA :

    ( LARGE .pdf file) Federal Register / V o l. 47, N o. 5 / Friday, January 8, 1982 / Rules and Regulations

    ( the relevant pages only are these, which follow: pp. 940-941)

    DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE Immigration and Naturalization Service 8 CFR Parts 101 and 264 Presumption of Lawful Admission;

    Registration and Fingerprinting of Aliens in the United States;
    Creation of Records of Lawful Permanent Resident Status for Aliens Eligible for Presumption of Lawful Admission for Permanent Residence and for Individuals Born Under Diplomatic Status in the United States AGENCY: Immigration and Naturalization Service, Justice.

    action : Final’ rule. summary : This amendment to the regulations of the Immigration and Naturalization' Service is made in order to institute a procedure for creation of records of lawful permanent residence for aliens eligible for presumption of lawful admission for permanent residence and for individuals born in the United States to foreign diplomats. It has been judicially held that, for naturalization purposes, children born in the United States to foreign diplomats have the status of lawful permanent residents. In addition, two precedent decisions of this Service hold that these children are considered to be permanent residents. Until now, however, there was no procedure for creation of records of their lawful permanent residence. Under the new procedure, they are eligible to apply for creation of records of their permanent residence. In the interest of consistency, we have also developed a parallel procedure for aliens eligible for presumption of lawful admission fear permanent residence even though records of their admission cannot be found. This is a standardization of an; existing procedure which will have a negligible effect on the aliens in question. EFFECTIVE* DATE: February 10, 1982. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For general information: Stanley J. Kieszkiel, Acting Instructions Officer, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 4251 Street, N.W ., Washington, D C 20536» Telephone: (202) 633-3048. For specific information: Alice Strickler, Immigration Examiner,, Immigration and Naturalization. Service, 4251 Street, N.W ., Washington, D C 20536. Telephone: (20ZJ 633-5D14 SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Children who are born in the United States to accredited foreign diplomatic officers are not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. They therefore are not United States citizens under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. According to an unreported decision, Petition of Vivienne Yu, U.S.D.C., Southern District of New York, A - l l 537 691 (1965), these children are considered to be lawful permanent residents for purposes of naturalization. In addition,, two precedent decisions of this Service, Matter of Huang,. 11 k. & N. Dec. 190* (1965), and Matter of Chu, 141. & N, Dec. 241 (1972), hold that these children are considered to be lawful permanent residents. In view of these decisions, this Service has received requests for Alien Registration Receipt Cards, Forms 1-551, documents issued to lawful permanent residents, for individuals born in the United States in diplomatic status. Until now there was no procedure, however, for creation o f records of their lawful permanent residence or for issuance of Forms 1-551 to them. On January 21, 1981, our Deputy General Counsel advised that it has been the stated Service policy for the past thirty-five years to treat individuals in this category as lawful permanent residents and that they should be issued Forms I551. Accordingly, we have developed a procedure to create; records of permanent residence for and issuance of Forms 1-551 to them. In order to be consistent, we have set up a parallel procedure for aliens eligible for presumption of lawful admission for permanent residence even though records of their admission cannot be found. Existing §§ 101.1 and 101.2 explain the requirements for presumption of lawful admission for permanent residence. Because these additions to the regulations are purely procedural in nature, and implement existing interpretations, compliance with the provisions of 5U-.S,C. 558 relative to notice of proposed rule-making is unnecessary. In accordance with 5 U .S.C. 605(b), the Commissioner certifies that the rule will not have a significant economic impact on a substantial number of small entities. This rule is not a major rule within the meaning of section 1(b) 1 of EO 12291. For the reasons set out in the preamble, Chapter I of Title 8* of the Code of Federal Regulations is amended as set forth below: PART 101—PRESUMPTION OF LAWFUL ADMISSION 1. § 101.3 is revised to; read as follows: § 101.3 Creation o f record of lawful permanent resident status for person born under diplomatic status in the United States. (a) Person born to foreign diplomat. (1) Status of person. A person born in the United States to a foreign diplomatic officer accredited to the United States, as a matter of-international law, is not subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. That person is not a United States citizen under the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution. Such a person may be considered a lawful permanent resident at birth. (2) Definition of foreign diplomatic officer. “Foreign diplomatic officer” means a person listed in the State Department Diplomatic List, also known as the Blue List. It includes ambassadors, ministers, chargés d’affaires, counselors, secretaries and attachés of embassies and legations as well as members of the Delegation of the Commission of the European Communities. The term also includes individuals with comparable diplomatic status and immunities who are accredited to the United Nations or to the Organization of American States, and other individuals who are also accorded comparable diplomatic status. (b) Child born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States. A child born in the United States is born subject to the jurisdiction of the United States and is a United States citizen if the parent is not a “foreign diplomatic officer” as defined in paragraph (a) (2) of this section. This includes, for example, a child born in the United States to one of the following foreign government officials or employees: (1) Employees of foreign diplomatic missions whose names appear in the State Department list entitled “Employees of Diplomatic Missions Not Printed in the Diplomatic List,” also known as the White List; employees of foreign diplomatic missions accredited to the United Nations or the Organization of American States; or foreign diplomats accredited to other foreign states. The majority of these individuals enjoy certain diplomatic immunities, but they are not "foreign diplomatic officers” as defined in paragraph (a)(2) of this section. The immunities, if any, of their family members are derived from the status of the employees or diplomats. (2) Foreign government employees with limited or no diplomatic immunity such as consular officials named on the State Department list entitled ‘Foreign Consular Officers in the United States’ and their staffs.

    (Emphasis added)

    (The remainder of the relevant CFR text concerns the details of the implementation of registration of foreign national diplomats’ family-members. )

    So, (See emphasis, added, above) even under the CFR administrative rules, not all foreign diplomatic staff's families are covered--i.e., their U.S.-born children excluded from U.S. nationality under these rules. Certain staff's U.S.-born children do acquire U.S. citizenship by virtue of their birth in the U.S. per the U.S. Constitution, Amendment XIV, Section 1.


    By the way, this is interesting (!)--

    (excerpted from the report you cited at >69 davidgn:

    (Center for Immigration Studies : https://cis.org/Report/Birthright-Citizenship-Children-Foreign-Diplomats#2 )

    5. United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) Is Not Tasked with Preventing Issuance.

    U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) does not seem to have addressed the issue of citizenship grants to children of foreign diplomats. The agency has produced seemingly conflicting information on births to diplomats, a likely result of Congress’ failure to provide direction on the subject.

    On a USCIS webpage titled, “Green Card for a Person Born in the United States to a Foreign Diplomat,” the agency explains that a child born in the United States to a foreign diplomat “cannot be considered a U.S. citizen at birth under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.” (n26) The agency explains that the child “may, however, be considered a permanent resident at birth and able to receive a green card through creation of record.”(n27)

    To be eligible, the person must (1) be born in the United States to a foreign diplomat; (2) have had residence in this country continuously since birth; and (3) have not abandoned his residence in the United States.(n28)

    The person must also fill out an “Application to Register Permanent Residence or Adjust Status” (I-485) form. USCIS requires a number of pieces of supporting evidence with the application, one of which is a copy of the person’s birth certificate — which, for reasons already explained, might be a U.S. birth certificate.(n29) Oddly, USCIS, may be issuing green cards to people holding U.S. birth certificates, a condition that according to USCIS makes the holder a U.S. citizen.(n30)

    USCIS adds the following: “Note: The provisions of permanent residency will not apply to you until you relinquish (give up) your rights, privileges, exemptions, or immunities which are available to you as the child of a foreign diplomatic officer. Your registration for this provision is entirely voluntary.”(n31) This raises a significant question: If it means relinquishing privileges, why would a diplomat’s child with a U.S. birth certificate and SSN bother to apply for a green card? His existing status is better than U.S. citizenship: he is a de facto U.S. citizen who is immune from U.S. prosecution (provided his parents remain employed as diplomats) (!). Similarly situated individuals can enjoy all of the benefits of U.S. citizenship as a result of the paperwork received at birth, but then claim diplomatic immunity if they violate a law. (*) A lack of direction from Congress on this issue has arguably created citizens who are above the law. (Emphasis in the original)

    (*) Practically speaking, first, only minor children (under 21) or those up to age 23, in full-time studies in higher education, are entitled to the diplomat's family-immunity and privileges. After these ages, they are subject to U.S. law. Second, it is not at all likely that the diplomat-parents of a minor child or the child himself would actually press a claim to diplomatic-immunity when that child is already being presented by its parents as a U.S. citizen since the immunity-claim would immediately create an official interest in the basis of the child's nationality status and it seems probable that presumptive U.S.-citizenship on the part of the minor child would be regarded as much more to be protected from questions and queries than the most likely repercussions of any routine childhood's act of misbehavior ; birth certificates, a valid Social Security number, these would suddenly become at risk as as soon as the immunity claim came about. It's "one or the other" and most families would protect the status of citizenship versus claim diplomatic immunity for a minor child--since, only in the most serious felonies would a minor child be brought to justice in the first place.

    Feb 26, 2019, 11:04am Top

    >78 davidgn: You're right, obviously, but I wish I could be certain by reading less.

    Feb 26, 2019, 1:27pm Top

    >80 RickHarsch:

    Well, here are the relevant paragraphs of Gray's opinion.
    The real object of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution, in qualifying the words, "All persons born in the United States" by the addition "and subject to the jurisdiction thereof," would appear to have been to exclude, by the fewest and fittest words (besides children of members of the Indian tribes, standing in a peculiar relation to the National Government, unknown to the common law), the two classes of cases -- children born of alien enemies in hostile occupation and children of diplomatic representatives of a foreign State -- both of which, as has already been shown, by the law of England and by our own law from the time of the first settlement of the English colonies in America, had been recognized exceptions to the fundamental rule of citizenship by birth within the country. Calvin's Case, 7 Rep. 1, 18b; Cockburn on Nationality, 7; Dicey Conflict of Laws, 177; Inglis v. Sailors' Snug Harbor, 3 Pet. 99, 155; 2 Kent Com. 39, 42.

    The principles upon which each of those exceptions rests were long ago distinctly stated by this court. p683


    In the great case of The Exchange (1812), 7 Cranch 116, the grounds upon which foreign ministers are, and other aliens are not, exempt from the jurisdiction of this country were set forth by Chief Justice Marshall in a clear and powerful train of reasoning, of which it will be sufficient, for our present purpose, to give little more than the outlines. The opinion did not touch upon the anomalous casts of the Indian tribes, the true relation of which to the United States was not directly brought before this court until some years afterwards in Cherokee Nation v. Georgia (1831), 5 Pet. 1; nor upon the case of a suspension of the sovereignty of the United States over part of their territory by reason of a hostile occupation, such as was also afterwards presented in United States v. Rice, above cited. But, in all other respects, it covered the whole question of what persons within the territory of the United States are subject to the jurisdiction thereof.

    The Chief Justice first laid down the general principle:

    The jurisdiction of the nation within its own territory is p684 necessarily exclusive and absolute. It is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by itself. Any restriction upon it, deriving validity from an external source, would imply a diminution of its sovereignty to the extent of the restriction, and an investment of that sovereignty to the same extent in that power which could impose such restriction. All exceptions, therefore, to the full and complete power of a nation within its own territories must be traced up to the consent of the nation itself. They can flow from no other legitimate source. This consent may be either express or implied. In the latter case, it is less determinate, exposed more to the uncertainties of construction; but, if understood, not less obligatory.

    7 Cranch 136.

    He then stated, and supported by argument and illustration, the propositions that

    this full and absolute territorial jurisdiction, being alike the attribute of every sovereign, and being incapable of conferring extraterritorial power,


    given rise to a class of cases in which every sovereign is understood to waive the exercise of a part of that complete exclusive territorial jurisdiction which has been stated to be the attribute of every nation

    -- the first of which is the exemption from arrest or detention of the person of a foreign sovereign entering its territory with its license, because

    a foreign sovereign is not understood as intending to subject himself to a jurisdiction incompatible with his dignity and the dignity of his nation; . . . a second case, standing on the same principles with the first, is the immunity which all civilized nations allow to foreign ministers; . . . a third case, in which a sovereign is understood to cede a portion of his territorial jurisdiction, is where he allows the troops of a foreign prince to pass through his dominions;

    and, in conclusion, that

    a public armed ship, in the service of a foreign sovereign with whom the Government of the United States is at peace and having entered an American port open for her reception, on the terms on which ships of war are generally permitted to enter the ports of a friendly power, must be considered as having come into the American territory under an implied promise that, while necessarily within it, and demeaning herself in a friendly p685 manner, she should be exempt from the jurisdiction of the country.

    7 Cranch 137-139, 147.

    As to the immunity of a foreign minister, he said:

    Whatever may be the principle on which this immunity is established, whether we consider him as in the place of the sovereign he represents or, by a political fiction, suppose him to be extraterritorial, and therefore, in point of law, not within the jurisdiction of the sovereign at whose court he resides, still the immunity itself is granted by the governing power of the nation to which the minister is deputed. This fiction of exterritoriality could not be erected and supported against the will of the sovereign of the territory. He is supposed to assent to it. . . . The assent of the sovereign to the very important and extensive exemptions from territorial jurisdiction which are admitted to attach to foreign ministers is implied from the considerations that, without such exemption, every sovereign would hazard his own dignity by employing a public minister abroad. His minister would owe temporary and local allegiance to a foreign prince, and would be less competent to the objects of his mission. A sovereign committing the interests of his nation with a foreign power to the care of a person whom he has selected for that purpose, cannot intend to subject his minister in any degree to that power; and therefore, a consent to receive him implies a consent that he shall possess those privileges which his principal intended he should retain -- privileges which are essential to the dignity of his sovereign and to the duties he is bound to perform.

    7 Cranch 138, 139.


    In short, the judgment in the case of The Exchange declared, as incontrovertible principles, that the jurisdiction of every nation within its own territory is exclusive and absolute, and is susceptible of no limitation not imposed by the nation itself; that all exceptions to its full and absolute territorial jurisdiction must be traced up to its own consent, express or implied; that, upon its consent to cede, or to waive the exercise of, a part of its territorial jurisdiction rest the exemptions from that jurisdiction of foreign sovereigns or their armies entering its territory with its permission, and of their foreign ministers and public ships of war, and that the implied license under which private individuals of another nation enter the territory and mingle indiscriminately with its inhabitants for purposes of business or pleasure can never be construed to grant to them an exemption from the jurisdiction of the country in which they are found. See also Carlisle v. United States (1872), 16 Wall. 147, 155; Radich v. Hutchins (1877), 95 U.S. 210; Wildenhus' Case (1887), 120 U.S. 1; Chae Chan Ping v. United States (1889), 130 U.S. 581, 603, 604.


    The words "in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof" in the first sentence of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution must be presumed to have been understood and intended by the Congress which proposed the Amendment, and by the legislatures which adopted it, in the same sense in which the like words had been used by Chief Justice Marshall in the well known case of The Exchange and as the equivalent of the words "within the limits and under the jurisdiction of the United States," and the converse of the words "out of the limits and jurisdiction of the United States" as habitually used in the naturalization acts. This presumption is confirmed by the use of the word "jurisdiction" in the last clause of the same section of the Fourteenth Amendment, which forbids any State to "deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." It is impossible to construe the words "subject to the jurisdiction thereof" in the opening sentence, as less comprehensive than the words "within its jurisdiction" in the concluding sentence of the same section; or to hold that persons "within the jurisdiction" of one of the States of the Union are not "subject to the jurisdiction of the United States."

    Feb 26, 2019, 2:13pm Top

    >79 proximity1: Re "either/or" -- Beyond that, there's also the complication that citizenship and attendant benefits (such as passports) issued to such a person are always open to challenge in the event State's attention should be brought to the circumstances of that person's birth and the dubious grounds under which such a passport was issues. U.S. v. Moreno (>65 davidgn:) is instructive that, should the resulting mess go to trial, the case law seems to differ markedly between Circuits.

    Feb 26, 2019, 5:38pm Top

    >81 davidgn: I was congratulating you on being parsimoniusly persuasive and you prolixitied me.

    Feb 26, 2019, 10:21pm Top

    >83 RickHarsch: Ah. *snort* Whoops..

    Edited: May 13, 2019, 6:21pm Top

    So, this is interesting. (Although I suppose it makes the OPCW's engineering team "Assadists.")



    But the report was suppressed by OPCW, and mainstream media won't report on it, even though a major BBC producer on the ground has tried to speak out about other elements that were staged for benefit of the media and various foreign policy responses. Only fringey outlets carried that, with their own slant:


    In a nutshell...

    cf. https://theintercept.com/2019/02/09/douma-chemical-attack-evidence-syria/

    Because, you see, truth is a political thing these days.

    cf. Ahmed's conclusions. http://statecrime.org/data/2018/07/Nafeez-Ahmed-State-Propaganda-in-Syria-ISCI-R...

    Jun 4, 2019, 10:52am Top

    >86 RickHarsch: I'm inadvertently reminded of The Age of Triage. Pity its author subsequently lost his head and threw his lot in with the Moonies (with the chancellorship of the University of Bridgeport as a reward).

    Edited: Jun 4, 2019, 11:21am Top

    Based on the (quickly authenticated) leaked OPCW engineering team documents (cf. https://consortiumnews.com/2019/05/17/confirmed-chemical-weapons-assessment-cont... ; https://hitchensblog.mailonsunday.co.uk/2019/05/strange-news-from-the-opcw-in-th... ; https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/douma-syria-opcw-chemical-weapons-chlorine-... ) MIT's Theodore A. Postol has now reversed himself on Douma, after having previously taken a position compatible with Harkin's in The Intercept (above, >85 davidgn:).


    When the OPCW document the leaked report from a dissenting OPCW scientist claiming that the chemical weapons attack was staged indicating staging of the chlorine cylinder attacks in the alleged attacks in Douma on April 7, 2018 was released, I was traveling and in Washington with little time to look more deeply into the matter. I have finally had a chance to evaluate sections of the Douma report S/1731/2019 more comprehensively, including critical observed data and calculations included in the report. The attached PDF file contains my findings in detail.

    My review of the conclusions in the UN OPCW Fact-Finding Mission Report (FFM) S/1731/2019 shows that the science-based analysis used in the report and the observed data collected by the FFM bear no relationship to each other.

    The calculations produced as proof for the conclusions bear no relationship to what was observed at the scene and both the observed data from the scene and the calculations bear no relationship to the reported findings.
    I believe that the leaked report that indicates the attack sites were staged is an indication of high professional integrity and competence within the OPCW working staff. In contrast, I conclude that the UN OPCW report S/1731/2019 is a product of compromised reporting of the inspection and analysis process by upper level OPCW management.

    As far as I'm concerned, the books on Douma do need to be re-opened.

    Edited: Jun 9, 2019, 11:50pm Top

    Dan Cohen

    Western thought leaders are lionizing Abdel Baset al-Sarout who was killed fighting the Syrian army. They conveniently omit that he fought in a militia allied with al-Qaeda and pledged allegiance to ISIS. From my mini-documentary: The Syria Deception ....
    1:57 PM - Jun 8, 2019


    Here's an link to the appropriate segment:

    Less than a minute in:
    We are all Jihadists.
    Homs has made its decision.
    We want to exterminate the Alawites.
    The Shia must leave.

    Yep. That's our boy!

    cf. https://www.moonofalabama.org/2019/06/syria-western-media-glorification-of-syria...

    Jun 11, 2019, 7:07am Top

    And now The Real News is covering Douma via an interview with Theodore Postol. Bravo! Video and transcript here:


    Edited: Jun 14, 2019, 7:57am Top

    What Turkey's S-400 missile deal with Russia means for Nato
    Jonathan Marcus | 13 June 2019

    Turkey insists it will go ahead with the purchase of an advanced Russian S-400 air defence system. The first missiles and their associated radars could start to be delivered in July.

    The US is urging Ankara to re-consider. It is warning that if the deal goes ahead then Turkey will be cut out of the F-35 warplane programme - the advanced US aircraft that will equip many Nato air forces over the coming decade.

    So this is a controversy that has security, strategic and industrial dimensions. It raises questions about Turkey's reliability as a Nato partner and the diplomatic course that it is pursuing. And given its key geographical location on the alliance's southern flank - not to mention its role in the Syrian crisis - Turkey is not a country that Nato can turn its back on.

    ...Russia makes very good air defences. But installing a new system in a Nato member like Turkey is going to require trainers and on-the-ground support which raises all sorts of security concerns. What else might the Russians learn as they help to install and calibrate the weapons?...


    Jul 21, 2019, 6:31pm Top

    Why is Turkey Betting on Russia?
    Galip Dalay | July 19, 2019

    ...Soviet threat that gave birth to the U.S.-Turkey alliance...Truman...1947...

    ...Geopolitically, (Russia and Turkey) are on opposite sides of the spectrum on almost all issues in their shared neighborhood...

    ...Russia’s military involvement in the Syrian crisis and Turkey’s subsequent shooting down of a Russian jet in the fall of 2015 were the crucial turning points.

    ...The Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK)-affiliated Syrian Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) was fast gaining territorial control and political influence in Syria...With Russian approval, Turkey undertook military operations in northwestern Syria, driving YPG forces east of the Euphrates river...

    ...Turkey reprimands the U.S. for supporting the Syrian Democratic Forces, and the U.S. is increasingly vocal in its criticism of Turkey’s relations with Russia and Iran, as well as Ankara’s policy towards Syria. The name of the U.S. sanction that Turkey is facing as a result of the S-400 purchase—Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CATSAA)—is telling.

    ...Vice President Mike Pence asked Turkey to make a choice between NATO and Russia. Preferring strategic autonomy in both foreign and security policy, Turkey doesn’t want to make such a choice....

    ...Turkey also thinks U.S. policy toward the Eastern Mediterranean directly undermines Ankara’s regional role. The Senate’s adoption of the “Eastern Mediterranean Security and Partnership Act” further aggravates Turkey’s fears that U.S. policy in the region, whether by design or by accident, culminates in a hard containment of Iran and soft containment of Turkey.

    ...this bill advocates lifting the arms embargo on Cyprus (first instated in 1987) and envisages Greece, Cyprus, and Israel as the new linchpins of U.S. policy towards the region...


    Edited: Oct 7, 2019, 8:15am Top

    A gift to Russia, Iran, ISIS, and, of course, to the NATO partner buying Russian military equipment?
    A last minute demand of the fading Trump presidency? To betray the brave Kurds?
    Turkey was already moving in, so no opportunity for Congress to reverse Trump action?
    (What are you seeing, davidgn?)

    Andrew Feinberg @AndrewFeinberg | 6:58 AM · Oct 7, 2019
    What this verified account for Kurdish SDF forces is saying is that
    @realDonaldTrump’s people convinced them to pull back their people & trust that the US presence would protect them.

    Now Trump is pulling out because his dictator friend Erdogan told him to, leaving them to die.

    Quote Tweet Coordination & Military Ops Center - SDF @cmoc_sdf · 11:22 PM · Oct 6, 2019
    Based on our confidence in the #US efforts in the Security Mechanism agreement, we implemented all our commitments to remove military fortifications between Tal Abyad & SereKaniye, withdraw combat forces with heavy weapons, risking a security vacum as a result of the agreement.

    But Erdogan's threats are aimed to change the security mechanism into a mechanism of death, displace our people & change the stable & secure region into a zone of conflict and permanent war.

    Any #Turkish attack will result in:
    1. Reverse the successful effort to defeat #ISIS, where #SDF sacrificed 11K martyrs of our sons & daughters over 5 years of war, which led to destroy the caliphate & created stability & security for the people of NE #Syria.

    2. A long-term war in the region making #Syria a permanent conflict area. While the international community look for Syria political solution, the Syrian people suffer years of war and migration.

    3. The return of leaders of #ISIS who are hidden in the desert & Euphrates Shield areas to in of NE #Syria. #ISIS cells will break their terrorist out of prisons (12K terrorists) & camps ( 70K #Daesh families) which is a threat to local & international security.

    4. Force the #Syrian people to subject to the extremist #terrorist organizations as #Nosra & #Daesh, that still retain more than 50K extremist terrorists, & also they are able to extend their reach all Syria.


    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 7:40 AM · Oct 7, 2019:

    The United States was supposed to be in Syria for 30 days, that was many years ago. We stayed and got deeper and deeper into battle with no aim in sight. When I arrived in Washington, ISIS was running rampant in the area. We quickly defeated 100% of the ISIS Caliphate,.....

    ....including capturing thousands of ISIS fighters, mostly from Europe. But Europe did not want them back, they said you keep them USA! I said “NO, we did you a great favor and now you want us to hold them in U.S. prisons at tremendous cost. They are yours for trials.” They.....

    .....again said “NO,” thinking, as usual, that the U.S. is always the “sucker,” on NATO, on Trade, on everything. The Kurds fought with us, but were paid massive amounts of money and equipment to do so. They have been fighting Turkey for decades. I held off this fight for....

    ....almost 3 years, but it is time for us to get out of these ridiculous Endless Wars, many of them tribal, and bring our soldiers home. WE WILL FIGHT WHERE IT IS TO OUR BENEFIT, AND ONLY FIGHT TO WIN. Turkey, Europe, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Russia and the Kurds will now have to.....

    ...figure the situation out, and what they want to do with the captured ISIS fighters in their “neighborhood.” They all hate ISIS, have been enemies for years. We are 7000 miles away and will crush ISIS again if they come anywhere near us!


    David Frum @davidfrum | 7:45 AM · Oct 7, 2019:

    Possible Trump motives

    1) Protecting income flow from Trump Towers Istanbul

    2) Payoff to Turkey to cover up recording of Khashoggi murder by Trump allies

    3) Obeisance to Putin

    4) Warning to House: if you impeach me, Ill burn every American alliance and interest before I go


    Yaroslav Trofimov @yarotrof (WSJ) | 3:12 AM · Oct 7, 2019:

    Basically the US persuaded the SDF Kurds to dismantle defensive positions that deterred Turkey, promising security guarantees in exchange. Then once the SDF Kurds became defenseless, Trump gave Erdogan the green light to invade. Hard to imagine a more sinister sequence of events.

    #SDF says that agreement with US to drawdown from key positions in N. #Syria means that, with #Turkey's threat to launch an imminent offensive, it's become "a mechanism of death" that will "displace our people& change the stable & secure region into a zone of... permanent war." https://twitter.com/cmoc_sdf/status/1181047175914110976

    Oct 7, 2019, 9:29am Top

    >93 margd: Turkey was already moving in (Sunday Night?), so no opportunity for Congress to reverse Trump action?

    Lindsey Graham @LindseyGrahamSC | 8:17 AM · Oct 7, 2019:
    * Ensures ISIS comeback.
    * Forces Kurds to align with Assad and Iran.
    * Destroys Turkey’s relationship with U.S. Congress.
    * Will be a stain on America’s honor for abandoning the Kurds.

    Also, if this plan goes forward will introduce Senate resolution opposing and asking for reversal of this decision.
    Expect it will receive strong bipartisan support.



    Lost-In-Trumpland @LostInTrumpland | 1:38 AM · Oct 7, 2019:
    Trump sacrificed the Kurds two days after the Trump Org got the final go ahead to build its towers in Turkey.
    Removing our troops and stood them down in exchange for a real estate deal.
    Sorry Kurds, thanks for everything, you're on your own. #TraitorTrump needs a tower



    U.S. Syria Withdrawal Impact on Kurdish Partners
    Nicholas Norberg | Tuesday, January 8, 2019



    A couple years old, but relevant still:

    Could Trump's Financial Ties Have Influenced His Phone Call With Erdogan?
    Jeremy Venook | Apr 18, 2017

    The president’s property in Istanbul looms over his interactions with Turkey’s leader, whether he wants it to or not.

    ...Trump and his team have for the most part denied that the president’s properties and other businesses around the world create conflicts of interest. But that’s not the case for Trump Towers in Istanbul. In a 2015 interview with Steve Bannon, at the time the executive chair of Breitbart News, then-candidate Trump acknowledged, “I have a little conflict of interest because I have a major, major building in Istanbul.” That didn’t stop him from bringing up the properties, albeit obliquely, when he spoke with Erdogan shortly after winning the presidency in November (2016): In that phone call, Trump relayed praise for Erdogan from one of Trump’s business partners in the region. Critics were quick to point out the conflict of interest after Trump’s most recent conversation with Erdogan, as well as to note a 2012 tweet from the president’s daughter Ivanka thanking Erdogan for attending the launch of Trump Towers in Istanbul.

    This is not the first time that Trump has demonstrated an affinity for Erdogan. In July 2016, amid a major civil-liberties crackdown in Turkey after a failed coup, Trump praised Erdogan for “turning it around.” And his former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn registered as a paid foreign agent for Erdogan’s government shortly after he was ousted from his position within the administration.

    So, did Trump’s conflict of interest in Turkey influence his decision to reach out to Erdogan?

    Answering that question demonstrates the difficulty of truly reckoning with how Trump’s financial interests interact with his presidency. (As of April 2017) there’s nothing to suggest that there was a quid-pro-quo, that Erdogan somehow bribed Trump for his approval or extorted him by threatening repercussions for his business in Istanbul. Nor is there evidence that Trump was actively considering his business when he decided to pick up the phone.

    Instead, Trump’s actions point to a subtler type of influence. Whether or not he wants it to be—indeed, whether or not he even knows it—it is natural that Trump’s attitude toward Erdogan and Turkey is shaped in part by the fact that he has business interests within the country. For at least the (almost exactly) five years since Trump Towers in Istanbul opened, Trump has profited from his relationship, however tenuous, to Turkey’s government and its leader. Pecuniary interactions with other people shape a person’s opinion, typically for the better. Moreover, Trump’s business partners in the country are (at least, right now) apparently pro-Erdogan, as evidenced in part by the fact that one of them owns CNN Turk, which has been generally supportive of Erdogan, including broadcasting his first message after the failed coup attempt in July.

    Trump’s friendly disposition toward Erdogan isn’t especially surprising, then. Even beyond Trump’s oft-noted penchant for strongmen around the world, everything prior to that phone call on Monday night indicates the kind of positive relationship that would lead to one person calling another after a major victory.

    Trump’s businesses create sticky situations like this all over the world. Perhaps the most direct analog is his property in the Philippines, whose president, Rodrigo Duterte, has led a brutal crackdown on drugs, but whom Trump praised during a phone call in December. Elsewhere, a branding deal in Indonesia links Trump to one politician implicated in a $4 billion extortion scandal and another linked to an Islamic-nationalist group seeking to oust Jakarta’s Christian governor. Another property in Azerbaijan involves notoriously corrupt oligarchs with ties to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. Should he be required to weigh in on affairs within one of those countries, it’s anybody’s guess whether the residual fellow-feeling engendered by his business interests might affect Trump’s response...


    Oct 7, 2019, 1:33pm Top

    Breathe easy, friend Kurds: "great and unmatched wisdom" has your backs...

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 11:38 AM · Oct 7, 2019

    As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that
    I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I
    will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!).
    They must, with Europe and others, watch over...

    ....the captured ISIS fighters and families.
    The U.S. has done far more than anyone could have ever expected,
    including the capture of 100% of the ISIS Caliphate.
    It is time now for others in the region, some of great wealth, to protect their own territory. THE USA IS GREAT!

    Oct 7, 2019, 2:33pm Top

    a stain on America’s honor

    Actually, that's one thing no one needs to worry about, same as no one need worry about unicorns screwing in the backyard.

    Oct 7, 2019, 5:38pm Top

    Ha! Art Spiegelman was so right...

    Edited: Oct 9, 2019, 6:29pm Top

    David Ignatius @IgnatiusPost (WaPo) | 8:13 PM · Oct 8, 2019
    A bad situation in Northeast Syria is about to get much worse. Sources tell me that US officials have just informed the Syrian Kurds that Turkey is likely to attack on air and ground in next 24 hours. The US will do nothing. Targets are Tal Abyad and Ras al Ayn....

    ...Ironically Tal Abyad was the main supply route for ISIS in 2014-15 through an open border from Turkey. Turkey refused repeated requests from US to shut border. That's a big reason why US decided to partner with SDF, which took the town in the summer of 2015.

    ...I'm also told that Turkish attack appears coordinated with the Russians. Russian-backed forces are mobilizing to invade the Kurdish area from the south — towards Tabqa and other spots. Meanwhile, ISIS is mobilizing sleeper cells in Raqqa and attacks have taken place tonight.

    ...And finally there is the scary issue of the thousands of ISIS detainees and families, who may be breaking out of camps and prisons after Turkish attack--with NO American back-up plan. This is a major disaster coming at us because of Trump's decisions. Hours left to stop it...


    Jenan Moussa @jenanmoussa | 8:18 PM · Oct 8, 2019:
    1/ There is no electricity in #Raqqa now. People are scared. Net weak. But I managed to ask someone to sneak to the window and record this short clip. There are clashes in city. ISIS is attacking targets in Raqqa.

    https://twitter.com/i/status/1181725536562925569 (00:18 video clip)

    2/ Coalition plane over Raqqa right now as ISIS mounts attack on city.

    3/ Machine gun fire has ceased in Raqqa. SDF now patrolling area of clashes in APCs.

    For clarity sake, I an currently not in Raqqa but I am in touch with multiple people I know in the city as i have visited Raqqa frequently.


    Earlier yesterday...

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 8:30 AM · Oct 8, 2019:
    So many people conveniently forget that Turkey is a big trading partner of the United States, in fact they make the structural steel frame for our F-35 Fighter Jet. They have also been good to deal with, helping me to save many lives at Idlib Province, and returning, in very.....

    .....good health, at my request, Pastor Brunson, who had many years of a long prison term remaining. Also remember, and importantly, that Turkey is an important member in good standing of NATO. He is coming to the U.S. as my guest on November 13th. #ENDENDLESSWARS

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 8:55 AM · Oct 8, 2019:
    We may be in the process of leaving Syria, but in no way have we Abandoned the Kurds, who are special people and wonderful fighters. Likewise our relationship with Turkey, a NATO and Trading partner, has been very good. Turkey already has a large Kurdish population and fully....

    ....understands that while we only had 50 soldiers remaining in that section of Syria, and they have been removed, any unforced or unnecessary fighting by Turkey will be devastating to their economy and to their very fragile currency. We are helping the Kurds financially/weapons!


    Exclusive: Official Who Heard Call Says Trump Got 'Rolled' By Turkey and 'Has No Spine'
    James LaPorta | 10/7/19

    ...President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting something—but we are not getting something," the National Security Council source told Newsweek. "The U.S. national security has entered a state of increased danger for decades to come because the president has no spine and that's the bottom line...



    Galatians 6:7:
    “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked;
    for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”


    Laurence Tribe tribelaw| 8:33 AM · Oct 9, 2019:
    If some of the 10,000 ISIS fighters are released by Turkey’s imminent attack on the Kurds as a predictable result of Trump’s insane pullout,
    our president will have given “aid and comfort” to an enemy with whom we are at war under the AUMF*. Read Article III of the Constitution.

    * Wikipedia: The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), Pub. L. 107-40, codified at 115 Stat. 224 and passed as S.J.Res. 23 by the United States Congress on September 14, 2001, authorizes the use of United States Armed Forces against those responsible for the attacks on September 11, 2001 and any "associated forces".


    Laurence Tribe tribelaw | 10:49 AM · Oct 9, 2019:
    On top of that, colluding with the monstrous Erdogan to wipe out the Kurds is the war crime of ethnic cleansing.
    And all for what? Two fuxxing towers in Istanbul.


    Andrew C Laufer, Esq @lauferlaw | 12:52 PM · Oct 9, 2019:
    Exactly what Putin wanted. Turkey is now firmly in Russia’s sphere of influence and NATO’s southern flank is compromised.


    BonzoDog1 @BonzoDog1 | 5:51 PM · Oct 9, 2019
    Trump (and Putin) want right-wing nationalists to take over European democracies. An increase in ISIS attacks there will do the job.


    Justin Amash @justinamash | 2:45 PM · Oct 9, 2019:
    Despite President Trump’s bluster about ending endless war, he’s not ending anything. Our troops aren’t coming home; a small number were moved so Turkey could escalate the war. And the president has expanded our role in Saudi Arabia and Yemen, and kept us in Afghanistan and Iraq.


    Alternative NOAA @altNOAA | 5:44 PM · Oct 9, 2019:
    When asked what happens when captured ISIS terrorists escape due to Turkey's offensive,
    Trump said "they're going to be escaping to Europe."
    He actually f'ing said that!


    Bianna Golodryga @biannagolodryga (CNN) | 12:13 PM · Oct 9, 2019
    Images of Turkey launching airstrikes against staunch US allies, from US purchased F16’s. Let that sink in.

    Oct 9, 2019, 10:18am Top

    So the Turks are already doing airstrikes against the Kurds. Trump by the way has a couple hotels in Istanbul.....but should we expect now that the man with the great and unmatched wisdom is going to hold the Turks to account and destroy them economically? It seems to me that Congress is more prepared to do something (though probably ineffectual) than the POTUS.

    Oct 9, 2019, 6:25pm Top

    Kurds left out to dry again and everyone just watches... That Turkish shit's blackmail is powerful indeed.

    Oct 9, 2019, 8:02pm Top

    The Kurds can't fight Turkey straight up--they are logistically outmatched and they have no air. That said they've already had a previous warning from Trump when he tried to do this deal several months ago. So they should have used these months to plan. The way for them to resist is to go to ground and fight a guerilla campaign which the Turks will undoubtedly meet with greater and greater repression. But that seems to me to be where they are adapting the old Ho Chi Minh strategy of an endless resistance to break the will of the Turkish people.

    How stupid and venal Trump is---'the Kurds didn't help us win WWII---they weren't with us on the Normandy invasion'. What historical insights this moron has. This was one of his dumb ass shit excuses today. These people have been dying right and left fighting proxy wars for the United States. What this simply is is betrayal and the pathetic excuse of a draft dodging chicken hawk. He's also not worried that ISIS fighters now in custody will soon be emigrating to Europe--that's their problem he shrugs off while at the same time he thinks that he'll have no problem in the future if it's necessary to link up with allies he's abandoning now. He's a fucking abdicator of any responsibility--no one in their right mind is going to ally with a country that can't be trusted to keep its word.

    He's right on one thing--that we shouldn't have gone into Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria. But when you drag others into your battles you should treat them as equals and not abandon them afterwards. This guy is a complete piece of shit and there's not a septic tank in the world deep enough to bury his sorry ass. He's going to be responsible for turning Syria into a much greater tragedy than it already is.

    Oct 10, 2019, 3:36am Top

    Jennifer Griffin @JenGriffinFNC (Fox) | 10/9/2019
    US now has 2 Brits who beheaded journalists. US official: “I can confirm that we've taken custody of two high value ISIS individuals from the SDF. They are being held in military custody pursuant to the law of war. They have been moved out of Syria and are in a secure location.”

    Quote Tweet Charlie Savage @charlie_savage · 8h
    U.S. Takes Custody of British ISIS Detainees Who Abused Hostages https://nyti.ms/2OzKY4Q

    This US Special Forces soldier wanted me to know: "The Kurds are sticking by us. No other partner I have ever dealt with would stand by us."
    Disappointed in the decisions coming from their senior leaders.

    Acc to this US soldier on the ground tonight in Syria: "The Kurds are as close to Western thinking in the Middle East as anyone. "It's a shame. It's horrible." "This is not helping the ISIS fight." Re: ISIS prisoners: "Many of them will be free in the coming days and weeks."

    Troops on the ground in Syria and their commanders were "surprised" by the decision Sunday night.
    Of the President's decision: "He doesn't understand the problem. He doesn't understand the repercussions of this. Erdogan is an Islamist, not a level headed actor."

    Edited: Oct 10, 2019, 5:24am Top

    Izola had a visitor from the Autonomous Regions of Syria at a film festival this summer; he had written a book on the experiment with a (to be brief) rather egalitarian society there. I will try to find what it is called, the name of the author, but in the meantime, this is what I am thinking about. Obviously the experiment, so to speak, was in process, and was difficult, but one thing he never spoke of was the possibility of the Turks invading.

    ETA: This is almost certainly the book: https://www.plutobooks.com/9781783719884/revolution-in-rojava/

    Oct 10, 2019, 6:27am Top

    #104--FWIW Kurdish women have been fighting right alongside Kurdish Men throughout this war against ISIS and they've proved to be more than just equals in battle. They are amongst their best their best fighters. So the above doesn't surprise me at all.

    #103--Trump doesn't care if ISIS disperses throughout Europe. They'll get here too and if he's still around he won't take responsibility. It will be someone else's fault. There isn't much of a silver lining but I can see this--he's turned off a lot of the military doing this which is generally a conservative institution and pretty much he's turned them off from the top right down to the bottom. Those in the military do take their missions and betrayal seriously--I think he's just further eroded his support for reelection. Saying the Kurds didn't help the United States in WWII or at Normandy is just despicable. Could anyone around him tell this turd that the Kurds did not have a country and still don't. That they are a long ways from France. He does not know geography or history and throws out this shit continually like he's some fucking know it all.

    Oct 10, 2019, 8:51am Top

    Boy, Turkey thought it used to have a Kurdish problem....wonder if, eventually, this could spell the end of Erdogan?

    The Latest: Reports: Turkish strikes hit civilians in Syria
    47 minutes ago

    ...BEIRUT (AP) — The Latest developments on the Turkish offensive against Syrian Kurdish fighters in northeastern Syria (all times local):

    2:55 p.m.

    A Kurdish news agency and a war monitor say Turkish troops have bombarded a convoy of vehicles taking residents of the northern city of Raqqa to a border town, inflicting casualties among them.

    The Kurdish Hawar news agency said the Thursday’s attack on the road leading to the border town of Tal Abyad killed three people and wounded several others.

    The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the Turkish airstrike occurred when a convoy carrying a tribal leader reached the entrance of Tal Abyad. It said several people were wounded but that no one was killed.

    Such contradictions in casualties’ figures are common in the aftermath of attacks.

    Turkish troops have been bombarding the town of Tal Abyad since the start of their ground offensive against Kurdish fighters on Wednesday.


    2:50 p.m.

    Two mortars fired from Syria have landed in a Turkish town along the border, wounding at least two people.

    An Associated Press journalist said at least two government buildings were hit by the mortars in Sanliurfa province’s border town of Akcakale.

    Numerous ambulances rushed to the scene following the attack. At least two people were taken to hospitals.

    Turkish media said mortars were fired from the town of Tel Abyad in northeastern Syria.

    Syrian Kurdish fighters have struck at least five different Turkish borders towns with dozens of mortars since Turkey launched a cross-border offensive against the group Wednesday.

    Residents were asked to evacuate immediate border areas, remain indoors and be vigilant. Turkey has argued the operation as necessary for its national security.

    Turkey’s invasion of northeastern Syria has been widely condemned.


    etc.... :(


    Oct 10, 2019, 11:49am Top

    I have this fantasy where Europe tells Erdogan "Screw you, send in the Syrians"... why the fuck not? Why the ever-loving fuck not? Because bloody politicians cling to their racist vote? Send them in, spread them around, paralyze that bastard for good--he'd be negotiating with the Kurds in a jiffy.

    Oct 10, 2019, 2:03pm Top

    Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warns he will ‘open the gates’ if Syria assault is called an ‘occupation’

    Michael Safi in Amman, Bethan McKernan | 10 Oct 2019

    ...if the continent’s leaders label Turkey’s military campaign in north-eastern Syria an “occupation”.

    Recep Tayyip Erdoğan warned European Union states he would “open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way” during a combative speech at a meeting of lawmakers from his Justice and Development (AK) party on Thursday afternoon.

    He rebuked critics of the operation in Saudi Arabia and Egypt and said Isis fighters who were captured in the military campaign would be imprisoned in Turkey if their home countries refused to claim them.

    As he spoke, Turkish soldiers and their allies were clashing with the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) in several border towns during the second day of an offensive that has caused tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.

    ...More than 60,000 people have fled the area since the offensive began, the Observatory added. Ras al-Ayn and Darbasiya, another town about 40 miles (60km) to the east, have been largely deserted since the offensive began on Wednesday afternoon.

    On the Turkish side of the border, after initially welcoming the operation’s start on Wednesday, civilians began fleeing in the face of SDF counter-attacks, hurriedly grabbing belongings and bundling children into cars.

    ...Video footage showed civilians fleeing towns with columns of smoke rising in the background and jet trails visible in the sky.

    ...The UN security council is due to convene on Thursday to discuss the offensive at the request of its five current European members, but it is not expected to deliver a strong rebuke to Turkey, given tacit Russian support and US ambivalence.

    Turkey says it is seeking to establish the buffer zone along the border against the threat of what it says are Kurdish terror groups as well as Isis. It also hopes to resettle Syrian refugees in the zone.


    Oct 10, 2019, 4:16pm Top

    Colin Kahl @ColinKahl (Former Deputy Assistant to President Obama & National Security Advisor to VP Biden) | 7:14 PM · Oct 9, 2019
    At the end of the Obama admin, Erdogan pushed us hard on the Zarrab case.
    Erdogan feared revelations about corruption would come out in court.
    We told him it wasn’t appropriate for the WH to interfere in such cases.

    Trump wasn’t just helping Rudy here.

    Trump Urged Top Aide to Help Giuliani Client Facing DOJ Charges
    President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to
    help persuade the Justice Department to
    drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy...

    Oct 10, 2019, 5:39pm Top

    Former National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster says Trump's Syria move will sow more regional chaos
    WESLEY MORGAN | 10/10/2019

    President Donald Trump’s decision to pull U.S. commandos out of northern Syria ahead of Turkey's incursion will further destabilize the Middle East and empower Russia, his former National Security Adviser...the retired Army lieutenant general said at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

    “What we have in the Middle East right now is the potential for four simultaneous crises,” ...the Kurdish-Turkish conflict, an “intensifying Syrian civil war,” popular protests in Iraq, and the threat to Israel from Iran and its allies.

    ...by abandoning its Syrian Kurdish allies, the U.S. may also push the group to ally with Russia or Syrian dictator Bashar Al Assad...the Kurds control "65 to 70 percent of Syria’s oil reserves."

    “Guess who wants that really badly?" he asked. "Vladimir Putin and the Assad regime. Once you cede control there, you cede influence over what does a post-civil war Syria look like.”


    Oct 11, 2019, 7:15am Top

    U.N. Security Council members divided on Turkey’s military action in Syria
    Carol Morello | Oct. 10, 2019

    ...Following an emergency closed-door session of the (U.N. Security Council), ambassadors issued somber assessments of the situation in the Kurdish enclave, where thousands of civilians were reportedly fleeing the Turkish offensive.

    Five European ambassadors who had called the meeting hoping to present a unified front against Turkey stood together with a sixth, from Estonia, and demanded that Turkey cease its military operations. They vowed not to provide stabilization or development assistance in areas where the local population is mistreated.

    Kelly Craft, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said the Trump administration does not endorse Turkey’s military action and warned of unspecified “consequences” but stopped short of condemning it. “Failure to play by the rules, to protect vulnerable populations, failure to guarantee that ISIS cannot exploit these actions to reconstitute, will have consequences,” she said, using a common acronym for the Islamic State.

    The Russian U.N. ambassador, Vassily Nebenzia, accused the United States and its coalition allies of conducting “demographic engineering” that he said led to the conflict. He called for a solution that would “take into account other aspects of the Syrian crisis, not just the Turkish operation...
    It should speak about the illegal military presence in that country,” he said in an apparent reference to U.S. troops in Syria.

    ...Even as the divided Security Council was failing to reach consensus on a statement, European leaders were making their concerns known. Norway, a NATO ally of Turkey, said it would suspended all arms exports to that country.

    ...Karen Pierce, the British ambassador to the United Nations, struck a conciliatory note, even as she called on Turkey to use “restraint” and keep up the fight against the Islamic State, which she referred to by its Arabic acronym, Daesh. “We admire all the efforts Turkey has made in a humanitarian crisis....It has been a heroic effort. Our main concern is it not deflect from the fight against Daesh.”


    Oct 11, 2019, 11:13am Top

    Was Saddam Hussein any more cruel in taking over Kurdish lands?

    Turmoil Spreads in Kurdish-Held Syria as Turkish Invasion Enters 3rd Day
    Carlotta Gall and Patrick Kingsley | Oct. 11, 2019

    Hospitals have been abandoned, displacement camps relocated and major roads blocked as residents flee an advance of Turkey’s forces...


    Edited: Oct 12, 2019, 3:29am Top

    Donald J. Trump @realDonaldTrump | 11:38 AM - Oct 7, 2019:
    As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything that I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the Economy of Turkey (I’ve done before!)...


    Exclusive: Turkey Bombs US Special Forces in Syria Attack, Apparently by Mistake
    Tom O'Connor , James LaPorta AND Naveed Jamali | 10/11/19

    ...(US) Special Forces operating on Mashtenour hill in the majority-Kurdish city of Kobani fell under artillery fire from Turkish forces conducting their so-called "Operation Peace Spring" against Kurdish fighters backed by the U.S. but considered terrorist organizations by Turkey.

    The senior Pentagon official said that Turkish forces should be aware of U.S. positions "down to the grid." The official could not specify the exact number of personnel present, but indicated they were "small numbers below company level," so somewhere between 15 and 100 troops.

    The official said shelling was so heavy that the U.S. personnel were exfiltrated once the attack had ceased...



    Turks knew Americans were there.
    Shelling was so heavy that US troops considered returning fire.

    Pentagon says Turkey fired artillery within 'few hundred meters' of US troops in Syria
    Paul Szoldra | October 11, 2019

    DOD press release: https://twitter.com/PaulSzoldra/status/1182797475460997120/photo/1

    Oct 11, 2019, 10:00pm Top

    There is a bit of truth in what the Russian ambassador says: the area controlled by Kurds now is about twice the size of the area they inhabited before the war. Amnesty International has accused the Kurdish forces of ethnic cleansing, driving out the Arab population in some areas. This has been overlooked by most western media, and ignored by western governments.

    I don't believe that excuses the Turkish offensive though, which is an attempt to drive the Kurds away from the borderlands, their traditional home. It is the Turks' own plan of ethnic cleansing. This will only create more refugees and more problems for the future.

    Oct 12, 2019, 6:27am Top

    Chris Murphy @ChrisMurphyCT | 4:12 PM · Oct 11, 2019

    American foreign policy today in a nutshell:

    We are abandoning a group that helped us fight terrorism and leaving them to be slaughtered


    beefing up support for a country that kidnapped and dismembered an American resident journalist and brazenly lied to us about it.

    Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 12:06am Top

    Hope FOX has this clip...not that it would be received with empathy.

    Coordination & Military Ops Center - SDF @cmoc_sdf | 12:42 PM · Oct 12, 2019:
    An innocent child does not know what a bullet is, hit by the Turkish army with artillery shells and warplanes in the villages of #SariKanye/ Ras al-ayn. She is now in Tal Tamir hospital receive treatment, her condition is critical.

    0:07 https://twitter.com/cmoc_sdf/status/1183060444132581376


    Riam Dalati @Dalatrm (BBC) | 12:03 PM · Oct 12, 2019:
    The #SDC/#SDF statement on #Turkey-backed #NSA summarily executing Gen-Sec of Future #Syria Party seems completely plausible in light of emerging video evidence, albeit circumstancial.

    Here they are executing #SDF (calling them #PKK) fighters on in an ambush checkpoint 0:23

    Oct 12, 2019, 6:16pm Top

    >115 madpoet: Go to #108 for more detailed information on Rojava. I don't know where you have gotten your information, but this expanded 'Kurdish' area you are talking about is extremely diverse, and from what I understand from speaking with one of the Kurdish leaders of the movement known as the 'Rojava (though it seems to have somewhat amorphous boundaries, which should not be surprising) experiment', there are numerous ethnicities, including various Arabic groups, Yazidis and Circassians, in the area. And I have never come across the slightest evidence of anything you are referring to. Can you provide this Amnesty evidence? It would seem that given the rather difficult terrain from which to make a living at the same time helping to fight a war, there would be little time nor inclination to make more enemies. Perhaps Amnesty International is not always correct, nor particularly careful in gathering evidence.

    Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 4:29pm Top

    Exclusive: Kurdish Allies Learned of Trump's Syria Pullout on Twitter: "We Were Like, 'What Is This Sh*t?'"
    Tom O'Connor AND Naveed Jamali | 10/12/19

    The U.S. foreign policy establishment, the Pentagon and leaders of Donald Trump's own party were taken by surprise by the president's announcement, after a phone call with his Turkish counterpart, that the administration would pull back U.S. troops from certain positions in northern Syria.

    Newsweek sources say Washington's crucial allies in the area, the fighters of Syria's Kurdish ethnic minority, were blindsided as well.

    "No one in the U.S. government told us" about the U.S. decision to reposition troops, or possibly even pull out of northern Syria as Trump suggested, a Kurdish intelligence official tells Newsweek.

    "When we heard the news of American withdrawals, well, it was over Twitter, we had no idea, we were like, 'What is this shit?'"...



    U.S. forces say Turkey was deliberately ‘bracketing’ American troops with artillery fire in Syria
    Dan Lamothe | Oct. 12, 2019

    Turkish forces who launched multiple artillery rounds near a U.S. Special Operations outpost in northeastern Syria on Friday have known for months that Americans were there, according to four current and former U.S. officials, raising questions whether Turkey is trying to push American troops farther from the border...

    ...One Army officer who has deployed to northeastern Syria and has knowledge of the situation said that multiple rounds of 155 mm fire were launched from Turkey’s side of the border and that they had a “bracketing effect” in which shells landed on both sides of the U.S. outpost.

    “That’s an area weapon,” the officer said, noting its explosive effects. “That’s not something we ever would have done to a partner force.”...



    Richard Engel @RichardEngel (NBC) | 2:02 PM · Oct 12, 2019:
    Turkey’s conflict in Syria took a major turn today.
    First alleged atrocities by Turkish-backed Arab militias, executing Kurds.
    US military officials tell me it's true, and they are DEEPLY concerned it opens the door to BOTH ethnic cleansing of Kurds and return of ISIS/Al-Qaeda

    Richard Engel @RichardEngel (NBC) | 9:25 AM · Oct 11, 2019:
    Driving through Northern Syria it’s so clear.
    So many of these areas were JUST in ISIS hands.
    They were JUST taken back. The isis fighters are STILL AROUND. And now a WAR against those who jailed them? ...


    Bill Kristol @BillKristol | 10:26 PM · Oct 12, 2019:
    Who wanted Trump to withdraw U.S. troops and abandon the Kurds?
    Not the Defense or the State Department.
    Not the foreign policy establishment or the American people.
    Not Republicans or Democrats.
    Who wanted Trump to abandon the Kurds and withdraw U.S. troops?
    Erdogan. And Putin.


    Phase 2: Turkey will be forced from NATO into arms of Putin. Trump's treachery in full bloom.

    Germany, France suspend sale of arms to Turkey
    Reuters | October 13, 2019


    Face The Nation @FaceTheNation | 9:17 AM · Oct 13, 2019
    WATCH: .@EsperDoD tells @margaretbrennan
    that Kurds are expected to but have not yet brokered a deal with Russia and the Assad regime.
    "There's every expectation...that the Syrian Kurds would cut a deal with the Syrian and Russian forces."

    1:28 https://twitter.com/FaceTheNation/status/1183371189256884231

    Oct 13, 2019, 7:02am Top

    #120--Kristol's remarks are pretty apt and I don't like Kristol. Trump has no problem trading lives for something that benefits himself. It's been noted all along throughout his campaigning and presidency that he lacks any kind of empathy. He is an overgrown spoiled child incapable of real judgement on practically everything.He made the decision on this completely on his own doing a favor for his pal Erdogan. He consulted no advisers--cabinet or military--gave no heads up to any of our allies like the Kurds, the British or the French. He upset the entire apple cart and is now trying to walk away from the mess just like a hit and run driver would. He will never take blame for his criminal presidency. He deserves to be locked up and as soon as possible.

    Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 9:46am Top

    Watching MSNBC (and we should be wary of 24-7 news channels) and their correspondent on the scene saying that it looks like Turkey is intent on moving further into Syria than they said they would--that they are using pro-Islamist Syrian militias to cause murder and other kinds of mayhem in Kurdish areas--the correspondent in fact used the word 'war crimes' in describing numerous atrocities including dragging a female Kurdish politician out of her car and stoning her to death---that while the United States is hightailing it out of Syria the Kurds are now reaching out to Assad and to the Russians for help and that there are now ISIS prisoners who have broken out of jail and on are on the loose.

    ......and the Donald continuing to defend his move to run away as a big success.

    And meanwhile we're sending several thousand troops to Saudi Arabia and Donald says that the Saudi's are paying out of their pockets for it. Which begs a question--because the Saudis have offered before to bankroll our military for their own purposes to use against their enemies which is a no no. Does the Donald understand that our military is not meant to be used as a mercenary army for hire by foreign governments? I suspect Mr. Quid Pro Quo doesn't.

    Oct 13, 2019, 1:43pm Top

    Steve Rosenberg @BBCSteveR | 10:31 AM · Oct 13, 2019:

    Russian State TV has just criticised the US & the Kurds in the same breath: America for "betraying & dumping the Kurds...the US is not a reliable partner." And why the Kurds? "For choosing America as their ally, not Assad or Russia.." Here's the transcript:

    Image https://twitter.com/BBCSteveR/status/1183389828081242112/photo/1

    Oct 13, 2019, 1:55pm Top

    #123--that's a cue for Donald and his favorite line---'Fake News'.

    Putin having a big laugh.

    Edited: Oct 13, 2019, 4:44pm Top

    Trump Tower Istanbul is awash in blood.

    Defense secretary: Trump orders withdrawal of remaining US troops from northern Syria
    Ryan Browne and Barbara Starr | October 13, 2019

    ...the situation on the ground is deteriorating rapidly in northeast Syria, adding that Turkish proxies, which the official describes as including "extremists," have advanced along the strategically important M4 highway setting up multiple checkpoints. He says these proxy forces are wearing SDF uniforms and killing civilians on the highway...



    Kurdish politician and 10 others killed by 'Turkish-backed militia' in Syria, SDF claims
    Kareem Khadder, Jennifer Deaton and Sharif Paget | October 13, 2019

    US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces say a prominent politician, her driver, members of Kurdish security forces and several civilians were killed by Turkish-backed militants in Syria on Saturday, after videos circulating online appeared to show the killings.

    ...A video circulating on social media purports to show the bullet-riddled SUV of Secretary-General of the pro-Kurdish Future Syria Party, Hevrin Khalaf, surrounded by several men wearing what appears to be military fatigues.

    ...In a separate video, a body of a woman -- believed to be Khalaf -- is seen lying in rubble with her face and hair covered in dust. At least one man can be seen standing over her and filming. He taps the body with his feet and says, "this is the corpse of pigs." The video is filmed up close and little else can be seen in the clip.

    Local journalist Ousama Muhammed, who knows Khalaf, told CNN that the vehicle belongs to her. Meanwhile, the Syrian Democratic Council -- the political wing of the SDF (who led the charge in defeating ISIS in Syria) -- blamed Turkish-backed militias in a statement on Khalaf's death.

    "She was taken out of her car during a Turkish-backed attack and executed by Turkish-backed mercenary factions on the International Road between Qamishlo and Manbij, with her driver who was also martyred," the statement said...



    Marco Rubio @marcorubio | 8:16 AM · Oct 13, 2019:
    ...Erdogans forces are filming themselves beheading Kurds

    Oct 13, 2019, 4:50pm Top

    If We Have to Choose Between Compromise and Genocide, We Will Choose Our People
    The Kurds’ commander in chief explains why his forces are finally ready to partner with Assad and Putin.
    Mazloum Abdi | October 13, 2019, 1:27 PM

    ...We lost 11,000 soldiers, some of our best fighters and commanders, to rescue our people from this grave danger. I have also always instructed our forces that the Americans and other allied forces are our partners, and so we should always make sure that they are not harmed.

    Amid the lawlessness of war, we always stuck with our ethics and discipline, unlike many other nonstate actors. We defeated al Qaeda, we eradicated the Islamic State, and, at the same time, we built a system of good governance based on small government, pluralism, and diversity. We provided services through local governing authorities for Arabs, Kurds, and Syriac Christians. We called on a pluralistic Syrian national identity that is inclusive for all. This is our vision for Syria’s political future: decentralized federalism, with religious freedom and respect for mutual differences.

    The forces that I command are now dedicated to protecting one-third of Syria against an invasion by Turkey and its jihadi mercenaries. The area of Syria we defend has been a safe refuge for people who survived genocides and ethnic cleansings committed by Turkey against the Kurds, Syriacs, Assyrians, and Armenians during the last two centuries.

    We guard more than 12,000 Islamic State terrorist prisoners and bear the burden of their radicalized wives and children. We also protect this part of Syria from Iranian militias.

    ...At Washington’s request, we agreed to withdraw our heavy weapons from the border area with Turkey, destroy our defensive fortifications, and pull back our most seasoned fighters. Turkey would never attack us so long as the U.S. government was true to its word with us.

    ...We...are not asking for American soldiers to be in combat. We know that the United States is not the world police. But we do want the United States to acknowledge its important role in achieving a political solution for Syria. We are sure that Washington has sufficient leverage to mediate a sustainable peace between us and Turkey.

    We believe in democracy as a core concept, but in light of the invasion by Turkey and the existential threat its attack poses for our people, we may have to reconsider our alliances. The Russians and the Syrian regime have made proposals that could save the lives of millions of people who live under our protection. We do not trust their promises. To be honest, it is hard to know whom to trust.


    Oct 13, 2019, 5:20pm Top

    >119 davidgn: There are few saints in the Middle East as Kurds I knew acknowledge, but Kurds abandoned practice of child-soldiers, adopted Geneva Convention for treatment of ISIS prisoners, helped Yazidis escape ISIS. They were better US allies than virtually all others. They deserve better.

    Ethnic Groups In Northern Syria In Danger Amid Turkey's Offensive - Yazidi Official
    Mohammad Ali (@ChaudhryMAli88) | 10th October 2019

    Fikret Igrek, President of the Yazidi Diaspora Council of Sinjar, a town in Iraqi Kurdistan close to northeastern Syria, told Sputnik....

    "This step the Turkish operation does not aim to maintain the territorial integrity of Syria or build a democratic regime but to operate on Syrian territory and change its demographic structure. The intervention itself and its objectives will severely violate the most fundamental principles of international law. The destruction and population engineering changing the demographic composition caused by such an intervention will also fall into the category of a crime against humanity with respect to the international law," Igrek said.

    ..."The peoples of Northern Syria, who sacrificed tens of thousands of people and resisted for their freedom in the fight against ISIS, are now faced with threats and chaos once again. Not only the Kurds but also the Arabs, Turkmens, Assyrians, Armenians and Yazidis inhabiting the region are in great danger," Igrek said.

    Yazidis are ethnically close to Kurds. During the IS offensive in northern Iraq in 2014, in which terrorists took control also over Mosul, Yazidis suffered massacres, persecution and forced conversion. The People's Protection Units (YPG), a mainly-Kurdish group on Syria, and the PKK helped Yazidis to flee Sinjar mountains through northern Syria and find refuge...


    Oct 13, 2019, 7:11pm Top

    >119 davidgn: Thanks, Davidgn. I hope that Madpoet is able to approach that information with an open mind.

    Oct 13, 2019, 8:15pm Top

    Here is the report from Amnesty International. I hope you will keep an 'open mind' Rick...

    Syria: US ally’s razing of villages amounts to war crimes
    13 October 2015, 18:18 UTC

    A fact-finding mission to northern Syria has uncovered a wave of forced displacement and home demolitions amounting to war crimes carried out by the Autonomous Administration led by the Syrian Kurdish political party Partiya Yekîtiya Demokrat (PYD) controlling the area, said Amnesty International in a report published today. The Autonomous Administration is a key ally, on the ground, of the US-led coalition fighting against the armed group calling itself the Islamic State (IS) in Syria.

    ‘We had nowhere else to go’: Forced displacement and demolitions in northern Syria reveals evidence of alarming abuses, including eyewitness accounts and satellite images, detailing the deliberate displacement of thousands of civilians and the razing of entire villages in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration, often in retaliation for residents’ perceived sympathies with, or ties to, members of IS or other armed groups.

    “By deliberately demolishing civilian homes, in some cases razing and burning entire villages, displacing their inhabitants with no justifiable military grounds, the Autonomous Administration is abusing its authority and brazenly flouting international humanitarian law, in attacks that amount to war crimes,” said Lama Fakih, Senior Crisis Advisor at Amnesty International.

    “In its fight against IS, the Autonomous Administration appears to be trampling all over the rights of civilians who are caught in the middle. We saw extensive displacement and destruction that did not occur as a result of fighting. This report uncovers clear evidence of a deliberate, co-ordinated campaign of collective punishment of civilians in villages previously captured by IS, or where a small minority were suspected of supporting the group.”

    Some civilians said they were threatened with US-led coalition airstrikes if they failed to leave.

    Amnesty International researchers visited 14 towns and villages in al- Hasakeh and al-Raqqa governorates in July and August 2015, to investigate the forced displacement of residents and demolition of homes in areas under the control of the Autonomous Administration.

    Satellite images obtained by Amnesty International illustrate the scale of the demolitions in Husseiniya village, in Tel Hamees countryside. The images show 225 buildings standing in June 2014 but only 14 remaining in June 2015 – a shocking reduction of 93.8%.

    In February 2015, the Autonomous Administration’s military wing, the YPG (the People’s Protection Units), took control of the area, which had been under IS control, and began demolitions, displacing villagers. Researchers visiting Husseiniya saw ruins of destroyed homes and interviewed eyewitnesses.

    “They pulled us out of our homes and began burning the home… they brought the bulldozers... They demolished home after home until the entire village was destroyed,” said one witness.
    Satellite imagery from Husseinya village taken in June 2015
    Satellite imagery from Husseinya village taken in June 2015 © CNES 2015, Distribution AIRBUS DS

    In villages south of the town of Suluk, some residents said YPG fighters had accused them of supporting IS and threatened to shoot them if they did not leave. While in some cases residents acknowledged that there had been a handful of IS supporters in their villages the majority were not supporters of the group.

    In other cases, villagers said YPG fighters had ordered them to leave threatening them with US coalition airstrikes if they failed to comply.

    “They told us we had to leave or they would tell the US coalition that we were terrorists and their planes would hit us and our families,” said one resident, Safwan.

    The YPG has justified the forced displacement of civilians by saying it was necessary for the civilians’ own protection or militarily necessary.

    “It is critical that the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and all other states supporting the Autonomous Administration, or co-ordinating with it militarily, do not turn a blind eye to such abuses. They must take a public stand condemning forced displacement and unlawful demolitions and ensure their military assistance is not contributing to violations of international humanitarian law,” said Lama Fakih.

    It is critical that the US-led coalition fighting IS in Syria and all other states supporting the Autonomous Administration, or co-ordinating with it militarily, do not turn a blind eye to such abuses.
    Lama Fakih

    In one particularly vicious attack, YPG fighters poured petrol on a house, threatening to set it alight while the inhabitants were still inside.

    “They started pouring fuel in my in-laws’ house. My mother-in-law was there refusing to leave and they just poured it around her…They found my father-in-law and began hitting him on his hands… I said, ‘Even if you burn my house I will get a tent and pitch it.This is in my place. I will stay in my place,” said Bassma.

    Although the majority of residents affected by these unlawful practices are Arabs and Turkmen, in some cases, for example in the mixed town of Suluk, Kurdish residents have also been barred by the YPG and Asayish, the Autonomous Administration’s police force, from returning to their homes. Elsewhere, for example in Abdi Koy village, a small number of Kurdish residents have also been forcibly displaced by the YPG.

    In an interview with Amnesty International, the head of the Asayish admitted civilians had been forcibly displaced but dismissed these as “isolated incidents”. The spokesperson for the YPG repeated claims that civilians were being moved for their own security.
    However, many residents said they were forced to leave even though their villages had not been the site of clashes, or were at a distance from the frontline and there was no danger from improvised explosive devices (IEDs) laid by IS. Forcibly displacing civilians without imperative military necessity is a violation of international humanitarian law.

    “The Autonomous Administration must immediately stop the unlawful demolition of civilian homes, compensate all civilians whose homes were unlawfully destroyed, cease unlawful forced displacements, and allow civilians to return and rebuild,” said Lama Fakih.


    Oct 13, 2019, 8:18pm Top

    >118 RickHarsch: "Perhaps Amnesty International is not always correct, nor particularly careful in gathering evidence."

    When the facts are inconvenient, just cry, "Fake news!" Right, Rick?

    Oct 13, 2019, 8:47pm Top

    I was disappointed, too, to learn that the Kurds have committed war crimes and ethnic cleansing, just as every other party in Syria has. Disappointed, but hardly surprised: this is the Middle East, after all, and the Kurds' reputation during this bloody civil war was a little too saintly to be believable.

    Now it looks like they have chosen Assad as the lesser of two evils. So Syria will be united again under that brutal dictator, and Turkey gets what they wanted after all: the end of the Kurdish state in Syria, and the dream of a great Kurdistan. Russia and Iran are happy. Israel, not so much. The U.S. reputation is ruined. But, hey, at least it's over, right? Maybe...

    Oct 13, 2019, 8:57pm Top

    >119 davidgn: >128 RickHarsch:
    No direct link to the podcast cited in second link. Here it is. Starts about 8 minutes in, really.

    Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 3:09am Top

    akram salih @akramsalih7 | 6:31 AM · Oct 12, 2019:
    I left my husband behind us in Kobani. I thought I could save our daughter away from bombing, but unfortunately she died on the road. Where is the free world.. Where are those who talk about humanity, Who talk about values.. what does Ardogan want from us?

    2:04 https://twitter.com/akramsalih7/status/1182966985979842560

    Retired Marine Gen. John Allen: 'There is blood on Trump's hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies'
    Paul LeBlanc and Jake Tapper | October 13, 2019

    Washington (CNN)A retired four-star Marine general on Sunday bluntly criticized President Donald Trump over the ongoing Turkish military offensive in northern Syria, saying, "There is blood on Trump's hands for abandoning our Kurdish allies."

    Gen. John Allen, the former commander of American forces in Afghanistan and former special presidential envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIS under the Obama administration, told CNN the unfolding crisis in Syria was "completely foreseeable" and "the US greenlighted it."

    "There was no chance (Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan) Erdogan would keep his promise, and full blown ethnic cleansing is underway by Turkish supported militias," he said. "This is what happens when Trump follows his instincts and because of his alignment with autocrats."

    "I said there would be blood, but could not have imagined this outcome"...



    Turkey's relationship with NATO tested over Syria operation
    Samuel Stolton | 10/14/2019

    Schisms between Turkey and NATO members surface as Secretary General Stoltenberg warns Ankara of potential ISIL risk.

    ...(Eleonora Ardemagni, Gulf analyst at the NATO Defense College Foundation (NDCF) and associate researcher at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI)) said: "Russia could enhance further its strategic influence in the sub-region, filling the American security vacuum and presenting itself as the first broker between the Syrian Kurds and the Assad regime.

    "At the end of the day, Turkey's military intervention in Syria benefits Russia and this is a bad scenario for NATO."



    Oct 14, 2019, 8:59am Top

    >129 madpoet: See the links posted by Davidgn. If you isolate YPG activities some of what they have done is horrific. If you understand that they were moving people out of a war zone, it is less so. If you believe they committed NO crimes whatsoever, then you don't have much of an understanding of history of war. If you forget their history and also dismiss the nature of their territory today, you are willfully ignoring a complexity of the war and missing one of the potentially positive outcomes of the war and a rare instance of humanity and sanity defying violent madness.

    >130 madpoet: This is just personal nonsense from someone who has been left short of arguments in the past.

    >131 madpoet: The current dismay over the Nobel committee's choice of Peter Handke leaks from a similar difficulty. Handke does not deny that, for instance, Srebrenica occurred, but he takes the view that it has been over-reported while abuses by Croats and Muslims in Bosnia have been dismissed. He is right that Srebrenica has become the symbolic event that has overshadowed other war crimes, but what is closer to the truth is that Srebrenica has become what it must be to clarify a truth about the war, and war criminals, and overall war aims. Muslims, for instance, were guilty of forced conscription. But what does that mean when a people are under an existential threat? Was Trump wrong when he said there are good people on both sides of the Charlottesville event? Certainly not. And I have to say in all honesty as a life long leftist that some of worst friends were leftist.

    Oct 14, 2019, 9:05am Top

    Syria Live Updates: Assad’s Forces Move Into Area Hit by Turkey
    Oct 14, 2019

    Hours after reaching an agreement with Kurdish forces, the Syrian Army entered a key town (Tel Tamer in northeastern Syria) near the Turkish border — a significant shift in the power dynamic.

    The return of government forces to northeastern Syria not only deals a blow to Kurdish-led forces who were supported by the United States, but also signals a major shift in Syria’s eight-year war.

    The Syrian government had been almost entirely absent from the northeast since it withdrew or was chased out by armed rebels. The Syrian Democratic Forces, a Kurdish-led militia that worked with the United States to fight the Islamic State, soon became the region’s overarching political force.

    Although the Syrian Kurds did not declare Mr. Assad’s government an enemy, Mr. Assad distrusted their efforts to establish self rule and vowed to retake all of Syria’s territory. But he had no way to do so, especially as American troops remained in the area...


    Oct 14, 2019, 12:33pm Top

    Just in passing, I found this interesting. Some Trump supporter in Poland caught ABC News using gun range footage from Knob Creek, KY shot in 2017 and reporting it as footage of the Turkish attack on Rojava.


    ABC News has retracted.


    It's interesting to see one's personal sympathies and those of the mainstream US media on foreign policy align for once, but the propagandistic mendacity leaves a sour note.

    Oct 14, 2019, 9:26pm Top

    Edited: Oct 14, 2019, 9:38pm Top

    >137 LolaWalser: Turks "very openly allying with ISIS"
    Well, nothing new there. What's new is the sudden 180 of the media attitudes on that particular dynamic.

    Oct 14, 2019, 10:07pm Top

    >138 davidgn:

    Democracy Now was consistent on Syria, Turkey, the Kurds the whole time.

    Oct 14, 2019, 11:16pm Top

    Between 2009 and 2018 the United States sold almost $4 billion of arms to Turkey and Turkey has been buying arms from the United States for decades......and the main reason why Turkey has needed these weapons is their suppression of the Turkish Kurdish population. I've brought this up before discussing Iraq--that on the Iraqi side of the border we treated Kurds like heroes but on the Turkish side we looked away from the Turks repressing them because really it's all about $'s.

    #137--I watched the clip--Goner's appeal to the US left. One of the problems in this country though is the Democratic Party is more conservative than it is left. There is this bs coming out of Trump's mouth about sanctioning Turkey. He's trying to get on the right side of his party here because even Republican Senators are appalled by this. Pelosi and Lindsey Graham apparently talking about real sanctions. But I don't think they're going to slow down Erdogan at all. He's as comfortable with the Russians as he's ever been with us. I don't think he'll worry overmuch getting tossed out of NATO. He's fine with the Islamists and ISIS too (he's been turning a blind eye all along to ISIS fighters crossing over his border)....and there are over a 1000 US troops many of them Special Forces trapped inside Syria right now and Erdogan, Putin and Assad could all make their egress a difficult proposition. There are so many ways that Trump has bollocksed this up---it's really unbelievable how stupid, dangerous and incompetent he is.

    The Kurdish project of how to build a society could and should have been a model for other regional peoples---instead it's been wrecked by a single criminal dimwit.

    Oct 15, 2019, 12:11pm Top

    >140 lriley:

    Not just the US left (if that even exists), but Europe's as well--all engagement or rather pseudo-engagement with Syria clearly portended this failure and defeat.

    People should have made up their minds long, long before--either to remove Assad or let him preserve the status quo. Eight years of slaughter, displacement of millions, ruination of millions, Islamic State terror--for what? Is there a single thing better in Syria now than it was in 2010? Anywhere else for that matter? Lebanon? Turkey? Libya? Europe? Anyone feeling safer in Israel?

    Oct 15, 2019, 2:52pm Top

    Reinventing the left in the United States depends a lot on younger people. So many are being left behind--they are looking at a futured of indentured servitude working their college debt off in low wage jobs--quite often not able to find work in their fields of study. Meanwhile there has been this 'hands off the rich' economic and tax policy. As a political force they have been slowly gaining traction over these wealth disparity issues, health care and climate etc. To have a world they're going to have to share and take from those who have too much. Whether some like it or not we are all linked to each other and far as politics in the near future climate is the thing that most easily effects all on a global scale.

    The Kurdish society building project was about as promising as it gets but in one phone call and one tweet our trainwreck of a POTUS destroyed that entirely. He betrayed the Kurds and he betrayed his own military in one go. The Bush/Cheney preemptive strike of Iraq was an absolute disaster--it has led to one evil after another. As incompetent and corrupt as they were they were pikers to the corruption and incompetency of Trump who has multiplied the evils exponentially with this asinine move and who knows where they'll end up but I would not be surprised at a major war or two and/or lots and lots of terrorist attacks around the world.

    Oct 16, 2019, 2:24am Top

    The Arab League has now condemned Turkey's invasion of northeastern Syria, joining Russia, Europe, Iran and the U.S. It is not often that those countries all agree. Erdogan would be wise to reach out to Assad and come to an agreement. If Syrian troops patrolled the border zone instead of the YPG, and the region was under federal control (with some form of autonomy, of course) then Turkey's ostensible war aims would be satisfied. Except for the settlement of refugees, but that was unlikely to happen anyways.

    Oct 16, 2019, 8:14am Top

    Hopefully just posturing, but Erdogan says Turkey will 'never declare a ceasefire'.
    Might he fear that a ceasefire might finally loosen his hold on Turkish voters?

    Could NATO Article 5 (collective defense) be triggered by Russian miscalculation in face of Erdogan animus against Kurds?
    (Reactions to a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jet shooting down a Russian Sukhoi Su-24M attack aircraft near the Syria–Turkey border on 24 November 2015 included denunciation from Russia and an attempt to defuse the situation by NATO afterwards. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2015_Russian_Sukhoi_Su-24_shootdown)

    Erdogan says Turkey will 'never declare a ceasefire'
    Helen Regan and Taylor Barnes | October 16, 2019

    ...Tuesday, Erdogan said a ceasefire was off the table. "Declare a ceasefire, they say. We will never declare a ceasefire," Erdogan said. "We do not sit at the table with terrorist organizations."

    Russian-backed Syrian regime troops on Tuesday gained control of the town of Manbij and surrounding areas,...

    Russia has stepped up its role in the Syrian conflict by deploying military police to the country's north...

    Russian units are patrolling a contact line between Syrian and Turkish forces, according to a statement by Russia's Defense Ministry. On Tuesday, Russia's presidential envoy on Syria, Alexander Lavrentiev, told state news agency TASS that Moscow "won't allow" clashes between Turkish and Syrian forces on the ground.

    After Turkey launched a long-threatened offensive across the border into Kurdish-controlled northeastern Syria last week, local Syrian Kurdish leaders struck a deal with Syria's government in Damascus to enforce the border.


    Edited: Oct 16, 2019, 9:18am Top

    #144--FWIW Erdogan and friends, associates, family have been linked now and again to Turkey's Grey Wolves--a right wing proto nationalist fascist terrorist group that has carried out slews of murders, asssassinations and what not over the years. He often makes the hand signal that group is famous for identifying its fellow members.

    Mehmet Ali Agca--the would be assassin of John Paul II was a member. The Grey Wolves also have links to Operation Gladio.

    Oct 16, 2019, 2:32pm Top

    >145 lriley: I'm glad YOU brought up Gladio as I have a troll watching out for my tendency to blame the US for everything.
    That said, isn't it amazing what Gladio wrought? That you can still sanely mention the word, that it still has tendrils of life some 70 years after it began, is rather astonishing.

    Edited: Oct 16, 2019, 3:03pm Top

    #146--FWIW Gladio is the American/European umbrella for right wing entities from political parties and entities, and national security agencies to the Mafia and the Vatican/christian organizations that was organized at the end of WWII by the CIA to quote/unquote 'battle Soviet communism' but has very liberally been used against anything at all left on the political spectrum. If one wonders where all the Nazi's and Mussolini's fascists ended up--a lot of them ended up in Gladio. They have tendrils throughout governments, security agencies, banks, corporations, the military, police, the courts wherever they are in Europe.

    Erdogan is a perfect fit for all that.

    Oct 16, 2019, 3:39pm Top

    >147 lriley: It should be noted that the Brits were deeply involved in the organization initially, and also that it was not a CIA-wide operation, and in fact was likely compartmentalized as a sort of secret CIA pocket within NATO.
    What has always interested me since I learned of its existence is to what extent anyone belived the original rationale (which, incidentally, remains a straight-faced assertion in most cases) that it was organized in case of a Soviet ground assault on western Europe. At this point, I believe that countries such as Norway thought of it that way and still did by the time it was wound up there (I assume it has been). In the worst of cases, like in Italy, from the beginning it was used to prevent communist successes at the poles and, over the years, even at the workplace. It's quite an irony that it was in Italy, where the US was most active, that a conservative, mafia-connected prime minister admitted Gladio's existence. The program had more friends in Italy than anywhere else, and made more use of NATO explosives.
    For anyone who finds it all too sinister to believe it is only necessary to follow the postwar tracks of Klaus Barbie to become convinced of what the US is capable of.

    Oct 18, 2019, 9:05am Top

    Turkish ceasefire/"PAUSE":

    Chris Murphy @ChrisMurphyCT | 5:44 PM · Oct 17, 2019
    1/ This isn't a ceasefire - it's a total capitulation to Turkey and the capstone of our abandonment of the Kurds. Don't pay attention to the headline - read the actual agreement. It's effectively surrender.

    2/ The pause is to "allow" the Kurds to leave the territory Turkey intends to occupy. So the upside is that the Kurds don't get shot (for 120 hours) as they get doublecrossed by Trump? The agreement basically cements Turkey's long term occupation of Kurdish land.

    3/ But the Kurds aren't even a party to the agreement! Parties to a "ceasefire" normally negotiate over it, so that both sides' needs are met. And so now it sets up the Turks to carry on their offensive when they claim the Kurds didn't "comply" w a "ceasefire" they didn't sign.

    4/ And...wait for it...we released our sanctions too! So we just gave up the tiny leverage we had to get Turkey out of Syria, or get them to make permanent concessions. We basically legitimized the invasion AND released the sanctions. What a deal.

    5/ Finally, by endorsing the occupation, we also implicitly endorsed one of the primary reasons for the occupation - to forcibly settle MILLIONS of refugees in this section of Syria. That's a fundamental human rights violation, and now we've compromised our position on it.


    Mutlu Civiroglu @mutludc
    I talked to number of Syrian Kurds to see what they think about the ‘ceasefire’ the announcement VP
    Pence. Here is the mood: “This is not a ceasefire, but a imposition of ‘surrender’ as almost Kurdish towns are in 0 to 5 km border line. / Turkey is willing to annex Kurdish lands

    Image (See map at https://twitter.com/mutludc/status/1184907555811872769/photo/1 )

    ...and clear the historically Kurdish lands from the Kurds. Settle ppl from other regions there under jihadist groups that controlled by Ankara. This operation is against the Kurds, Christians, Yezidis and intented for complete ethnic and religious modification of the N&E Syria

    “What do these people expect us to do? Leave our homes to Turks and go elsewhere? Do they really think this is a ceasefire. This is a death order for us” an angry journalist told me...

    Oct 18, 2019, 9:15am Top

    Sounds like Erdogan's attack on Syrian Kurds is fuelled at least in part by internal challenges to his hold on power.
    (Reminds one of Arab Israelis' support for opposition party with hope of bringing down Netanyahu.)

    Can the Turkish Opposition Develop a Sustainable Kurdish Policy?
    Galip Dalay | October 18, 2019

    Since 2002, the rule of Turkish politics has been clear and simple: Turkey periodically holds elections, and the winning party remains the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The last local election held on March 31 and Istanbul’s re-run election on June 23 were exceptions to this rule. The AKP suffered its most severe electoral defeat to date by losing almost all of Turkey’s major cities to the opposition, including Istanbul and Ankara.

    Among other factors—including economic deterioration—the single most important factor in the opposition’s victory and the government’s defeat at the polls was the Kurdish vote. More specifically, it was the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party’s (HDP) decision to support the opposition candidates in major metropolitan cities, instead of fielding its own candidates. That decision paid off handsomely. Now, however—in light of the government’s heavy-handed criminalization of the HDP and Turkey’s incursion into the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG)-dominated northeastern Syria—the opposition bloc is doing a delicate dance around the Kurdish issue...


    Oct 18, 2019, 2:06pm Top

    These photos should be taped to Trump's eyeballs and glued to walls of elevators and foyers of his GD buildings:

    'Dad stop the burning, I beg you': Horrifying footage reveals badly-burned Kurdish children in Syria amid claims Turkey is using banned weapons such as napalm and white phosphorus

    Kurdish forces claim NATO-member Turkey is using banned weapons in Syria
    Horrifying video shows Syrian child being treated in hospital for severe burns on his body, which expert says appears to be caused by white phosphorus
    Pictures also show another boy with the skin on his head and face burned away
    Images taken before Mike Pence agreed a ceasefire deal with Turkey Thursday

    Chris Pleasance | 18 October 2019

    Horrifying images have emerged showing badly burned children in Syria - amid claims that Turkey is using banned chemical weapons against the Kurds.

    Distressing footage taken at a hospital in Tal Tamr, near the border city of Ras al-Ayn which has seen the heaviest fighting, on Monday shows a boy with deep burns to his entire upper body.

    As he is brought into the hospital he can be heard screaming 'Dad stop the burning... I beg you' before medics are able to give him a dose of morphine. He is thought to have spent 12 hours in agony before being treated.

    Hamish de-Bretton Gordon, a British chemical weapons expert, said the burns appeared consistent with white phosphorus - a banned chemical weapon which sticks to the skin and burns in contact with moisture, meaning it cannot be put out...


    Oct 18, 2019, 2:42pm Top

    Add the weird sidenote that because of the haste of withdrawl, because the U.S. military was not forewarned, the Americans ended up bombing some of their own facilities to take them out of action.

    Edited: Oct 18, 2019, 4:44pm Top

    #151--according to Donald Trump today 'the Kurds are very happy with how things are going'. You see the pictures of these burned kids--with 160,000 or more displaced and who knows how many dead and/or injured/maimed and 'they're happy'---? This guy is completely fucked up. He can't answer questions about this with any coherence and has been rattling off one inane excuse after another.

    .....and it makes me wonder--the Trump supporters here don't seem to want to talk about this. Is it because it's too inconvenient? or is it because they just don't give a rat's ass how with a phone call and a tweet he's killed hundreds of people and displaced pretty much an entire people within the borders of Syria?

    Oct 22, 2019, 8:56am Top

    The naked truth :

    Trump Calls for Control, Use of Syrian Oil Fields

    “I always said if you’re going in, keep the oil,” Mr. Trump said at a cabinet meeting Monday. “We’ll work something out with the Kurds so that they have some money, so that they have some cash flow. Maybe we’ll get one of our big oil companies to go in and do it properly.”

    Former administration officials said Mr. Trump’s plan raises a host of legal, technical and diplomatic issues. And industry analysts say it is unlikely to draw any interest from the oil companies it would need to succeed.

    Oct 22, 2019, 9:00am Top

    >154 2wonderY: What the actual--
    We're sure the date on that piece is correct?

    Edited: Oct 22, 2019, 9:11am Top

    AP reports the same general story, lacking the emphasis

    US may now keep some troops in Syria to guard oilfields

    and some response at AL-Monitor

    Pentagon guardianship of Syrian oil fields faces pushback

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