Governmental persecution of scientists

This 14 February 2017 video says about itself:

As Donald Trump Denies Climate Change, These Kids Die Of It | The New York Times

The incoming U.S. president, Donald Trump, has denied manmade climate change. The Times’s Nicholas Kristof travels to drought-stricken Madagascar to see the unfolding crisis for himself.

By Sujata Gupta, December 6, 2019 at 6:00 am:

What happens when governments crack down on scientists just doing their jobs?

Human rights take a back seat when state leaders try to control the narrative

On a sunny day in March 2016, Turkish forensic physician Şebnem Korur Fincanci drove into Cizre, a town in southeastern Turkey. The government had just lifted a 79-day curfew meant to help the Turkish military rout out members of the separatist PKK, or Kurdistan Workers’ Party. Turkey has long fought to keep insurgents from creating a separate Kurdish country, and has designated the PKK as a terrorist organization.

Like most people outside of Cizre, Fincanci had no idea what had transpired during the lockdown. She arrived to a devastated city.

The air, she says, smelled of burnt flesh. Houses were riddled with bullet holes, the furniture inside burned or bashed with sledgehammers. Residents led her to three bombed-out buildings. Fincanci entered one and saw within the basement rubble a jawbone and a pair of eyeglasses. She could immediately tell that the jawbone was a child’s.

Fincanci had not brought her forensic tools. She had assumed that this visit was preliminary, a time to talk with Cizre residents about their medical needs. So, she snapped pictures of the bone, the glasses and the surrounding debris with her cell phone. Residents later confirmed that the building had been home to a young family.

After a 79-day curfew was lifted in Cizre, Turkey, in March 2016, forensic physician Şebnem Korur Fincanci found demolished buildings (left) and walls filled with bullet holes (center). In one residential building’s basement, she found a burnt jaw (right) from a child thought to have died there. All: Ş. Fincanci

After a 79-day curfew was lifted in Cizre, Turkey, in March 2016, forensic physician Şebnem Korur Fincanci found demolished buildings (left) and walls filled with bullet holes (center). In one residential building’s basement, she found a burnt jaw (right) from a child thought to have died there.

A few days later, Fincanci wrote a report and posted it on the website of the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey, a volunteer organization she helped found in 1990. She also sent the report to Turkey’s internal affairs office. Fincanci wrote that the military had committed atrocities against innocent civilians. She demanded a full investigation. Instead, in June 2016, the government charged her with spreading terrorist propaganda. “I was arrested and sent to prison,” Fincanci says.

Weak regimes

Across the ages, scientists have come under fire for all manner of offense, often tied to the work they do. Chinese astronomers Hi and Ho were executed over 4,000 years ago, according to lore, for failing to predict a solar eclipse. In 1633, the Roman Catholic Church convicted astronomer Galileo Galilei of heresy for stating that the Earth revolves around the sun — a concept antithetical to the church doctrine that put the Earth at the center of the universe. He spent the remaining nine years of his life under house arrest.

In the United States, during the Red Scare of the 1940s and 1950s, government officials monitored and interrogated academics seen as Communist sympathizers. Princeton University physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, a leader of the Manhattan Project, was accused of being a national security risk and lost his security clearance.

In the aftermath of World War II, on December 10, 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights so that atrocities of the Holocaust would never be replayed. The document stated that every person everywhere has the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, the right to work and education, and the freedom of opinion and expression.

The declaration provided a blueprint for how people around the world ought to be treated, yet human rights abuses, against scientists and others, have continued.

The Cold War’s end in 1991 led to a shift from clearly totalitarian regimes where citizens had few personal and political freedoms to countries that appear democratic but exhibit varying levels of authoritarian control, says Andrew Anderson, executive director of Front Line Defenders, a human rights organization based in Dublin.

The blurred line between authoritarianism and democracy in Turkey under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is a case in point, Anderson says. Scientists almost anywhere can find themselves under fire as even [supposedly] staunch democracies, including Greece and the United States, struggle to balance state interests and academic freedoms. Some scientists are attacked for sharing their research and others stumble into dangerous situations while doing their jobs, such as doctors accused of providing medical care to protesters or rebels. Others feel compelled to use their standing as public figures to resist and expose wrongdoing.

Quantifying the number of scientists whose human rights are under threat is challenging, but a November 19 report from Scholars at Risk, a nonprofit organization that helps persecuted academics, provides some context. From September 1, 2018, to August 31, 2019, the organization documented 324 attacks on students and academics, including scientists, from 56 countries, says Scholars at Risk advocacy director Clare Robinson. The report also points to countries with increasing restrictions on academics, including India, China, Sudan, Brazil and for the fourth year in a row, Turkey, where thousands of academics have been charged with disloyalty, treason and terrorism.

Scientists, professional organizations and human rights groups have been mounting international campaigns to help persecuted colleagues. Numerous groups agitated on Fincanci’s behalf, circulating petitions, sending letters and holding demonstrations. But even when advocacy helps free scientists from detention, the accused can find their professional and personal lives upended. Some must live in exile, cut off from their support systems and their work. Others wind up unemployed.

After 10 days in jail, Fincanci and two detained journalists were released to await trial. “Thanks to international solidarity and support, they couldn’t hold us for a long time,” she says. “They had to release us.” The propaganda charges were dropped in July. Fincanci now faces 2.5 years in prison for signing a petition along with more than 1,000 scholars to demand an end to the fighting between Turkish forces and the PKK. …

The list goes on. In August, Ricardo Galvão was fired as director of Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research. Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro, who had begun to open more Amazon rainforest to mining and other commercial activities, disagreed with an institute report showing that deforestation from April to June 2019 was almost 25 percent higher than during the same period the year before. …

In Sudan last December, when protestors demonstrated against the government of then-President Omar al-Bashir, the military responded with force against both the protestors and those rushing to their aid. Physicians for Human Rights reported in April that it found support for allegations that police and security forces intentionally attacked at least seven Sudanese medical facilities. The group’s independent assessment of postmortem records supports claims that police shot physician Babiker Abdul Hamid in the chest in January as he tried to explain that doctors were simply treating the injured. “He said he was a doctor, and he was shot point blank,” reported one eyewitness. Sudan has claimed that he was shot by “infiltrators.”

How a government treats people who offer medical care can serve as a litmus test for academic freedom, Sirkin says. “It’s never a crime for a doctor to treat a sick person.” …

Scrutiny of Chinese scientists

Sharing findings with colleagues around the world is central to science. For years, U.S. funding agencies and research universities have encouraged collaboration between Chinese and U.S. scientists, says Xiaoxing Xi, a physicist at Temple University in Philadelphia. But collaborating has become riskier.

Xi, who earned his doctorate in China before emigrating to the United States in 1989, has traveled frequently to China and worked with partners at Peking University, Tsinghua University and Shanghai Jiaotong University. His research involves fabricating pure materials for studying their intrinsic properties. Those materials eventually could wind up in devices such as cell phones. “I do fundamental research,” Xi says. “I do not do research which is classified or restricted.”

In May 2015, Xi was named chair of Temple’s physics department. Two days later, FBI agents burst into his home, pulling Xi, his wife and two daughters from their bedrooms at gunpoint. Xi describes it as a scene out of a movie.

Xi says FBI agents interrogated him for two hours. The agents thought he had shared sensitive information with China, particularly about a device called a pocket heater. Xi quickly realized that the agents had gotten the science wrong. The information he had shared was not sensitive; it was about a different device, not a pocket heater. But clearing his name took months, by which point his reputation was in tatters.

In 2015, the FBI detained physicist Xiaoxing Xi for allegedly sharing sensitive information with China. Courtesy of X. Xi

On the same day that Xi was arrested, the Committee of 100, a nonprofit organization based in New York City that supports Chinese Americans in U.S. society, held a news conference to discuss a similar case. Sherry Chen, a hydrologist at the National Weather Service, had been arrested in October 2014 on espionage charges related to allegedly sharing information about the nation’s dams with China. Her case was dropped one week before trial. In December 2014, charges against two Chinese biologists working at Eli Lilly and Company in Indiana were dismissed.

“So you have … four individuals accused of very serious crimes and yet all have their cases dropped. That’s just very unusual,” says Jeremy Wu, a retired U.S. Census Bureau statistician who is on the Committee of 100 board.

To find out what was going on, Wu contacted Andrew Chongseh Kim, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig LLP in Houston with some statistics expertise. Kim looked at a random sample of 136 cases involving 187 individuals charged under the Economic Espionage Act between 1997 and 2015. Kim recognized that focusing on that one act would not cover all the cases — Xi was charged under a separate statute, for instance — but it was the most straightforward means of quantifying the problem.

Charges against people with Chinese names grew from 17 percent of more than 100 defendants from 1997 to 2008, an 11-year span, to 52 percent of the 80 or so who were charged over the next six years, Kim reported December 2018 in Cardozo Law Review. Concerns about economic espionage have been growing in recent years and seem to be centered on Chinese Americans suspected of sharing trade secrets with businesses in China, Kim says. …

In Xi’s case, the charges were dropped in September 2015, and he returned to work. But his professional career has not recovered. He never did get to serve as chair of his department, his federal grants and contracts have dwindled from nine before his arrest to two today and his lab has shrunk from 15 members to three. Xi says his family remains in a state of perpetual vigilance. “We have to be sure that everything we say cannot be twisted by the government to charge us,” he says.

Rising up in Turkey

While some scientists unwittingly stumble into bad situations, others act as whistle-blowers. A decade ago, hope was mounting that Turkey could emerge as a democratic stronghold in the troubled Middle East. And Erdoğan, who served as prime minister for over a decade before he became president in 2014, appeared moderate. As president, though, Erdoğan has turned toward authoritarianism.

Turkey’s academics have been pushing back. In January 2016, 1,128 Turkish scholars, including Fincanci, signed the Peace Petition. Accusing Erdoğan’s government of the “deliberate massacre and deportation” of civilians, the petitioners demanded an end to the fighting. Turkey responded by suing over 800 signatories and pressuring universities to retaliate against those employees. Almost 500 scholars lost their jobs.

Fincanci was forced to retire from her job at Istanbul University and is appealing the 2.5-year prison sentence she received for signing the document. “I have been banned from public service,” she says.

Food engineer Bülent Şik was already caught up in the country’s criminal justice system when he signed the petition and subsequently lost his job. In 2011, Turkey’s Ministry of Health sought to find out why cancer rates were so high in the country’s northwestern industrial cities. Şik, who served as a team leader for one of the 16 resulting projects, was tasked with looking for contaminants in water and produce in four industrial provinces. His home city of Antalya, where industries are rare, served as a control. Şik ’s team studied 1,440 locations encompassing about 7 million people, including 1.3 million children.

Between 2013 and 2015, the team found that in 52 locations, people’s drinking water was dangerously high in lead, aluminum and arsenic, which have been linked to cancer. Almost a fifth of the food sampled contained pesticides above the legal limit. Şik’s team identified 66 types of pesticide residues, 26 of which are known to disrupt the endocrine systems of infants and children.

The cumulative effect of ingesting those pesticides throughout childhood could be catastrophic, says Şik, speaking through a translator. “I felt that this was my scientific responsibility to explain those results and share [them] with the public.”

In 2015, representatives from all 16 projects and the health ministry pledged to make the findings public. But the Ministry of Health never released the information. So, in April 2018, Şik published a four-part series about his findings in the national newspaper Cumhuriyet. Government officials sued Şik for distributing confidential information. At one of several trials, he defiantly spent an hour and a half describing his findings.

“It is our freedom to say whatever we want during our defense. I used this freedom to explain the rest of the findings,” Şik says. At his latest hearing on September 26, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, a decision he is appealing.

While the Universal Declaration of Human Rights lays out the fundamental rights of all people, it lacks enforcement teeth. More people need to come to the aid of persecuted scientists, Anderson says. “If we want to secure democracy and human rights, we need to mobilize. We need to support the people that are willing to stick their necks out.”

More than four decades ago, the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine established an advocacy arm for scientists experiencing persecution worldwide. The National Academies’ Committee on Human Rights works behind the scenes to research allegations of persecution against scientists and to advocate on their behalf. …

In October, the American Physical Society awarded Xi a 2020 Andrei Sakharov Prize for his “articulate and steadfast advocacy in support of the U.S. scientific community and open scientific exchange, and especially his efforts to clarify the nature of international scientific collaboration in cases involving allegations of scientific espionage.” And in September, members of 60 scientific societies wrote a letter calling on the U.S. government to find “the appropriate balance between our nation’s security and an open, collaborative scientific environment.”

In Turkey, where most universities are state-run, sustained international pressure has yielded limited success, says Robinson, of Scholars at Risk. “A lot of academics are now being acquitted in Turkey but then they’re being reassigned to [remote] universities or regions where they will be forgotten.”

‘Turkish Erdogan regime supporting Boko Haram terror’

This 14 November 2019 video is called Egyptian TV News Report Alleges Turkey Supplying Weapons to Nigeria’s Boko Haram.

By Steve Sweeney:

Turkey accused of supplying arms to Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram

TURKEY has been branded a “terrorist state” and is under investigation by the Nigerian military over allegations it supplied “sophisticated weapons” to jihadist terror group Boko Haram, according to a senior army official.

In the latest revelation linking Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to jihadists, it is claimed that Turkish Airlines was responsible for shipping arms to Nigeria.

In a 2014 audio recording circulating on YouTube, the assistant executive of the Turkish airline, Mehmet Karatas, allegedly told Mustafa Varank, a former adviser to Mr Erdogan, then-Turkish Prime Minister, that he felt guilty over the arms shipment to Nigeria.

“I do not know whether these [weapons] will kill Muslims or Christians. I feel sinful,” Mr Karatas was allegedly heard saying.

Mr Erdogan dismissed the claims at the time as “vile”.

But Nigerian Defence Headquarters spokesman, Brigadier General Onyema Nwachukwu said on Wednesday: “The veracity of the claims in the video cannot be ascertained immediately.

“However, it is a serious national-security issue, and I believe it is receiving the required attention at the national strategic level.”

In May 2017 the Nigerian government claimed to have intercepted an illegal arms shipment from Turkey, seizing 440 illegal pump-action rifles at the port in Lagos.

This came five months after customs officials halted a truck with 661 of the same weapons.

It is alleged that an intercepted phone call confirmed the arms deals, with Egpyt’s Ten TV host Nasha’t al-Deyhi saying: “Today’s leak confirms without a doubt that Erdogan, his state, his government and his party are transferring weapons from Turkey to — this is a shock, to where you may ask — to Nigeria; and to whom? — to the Boko Haram organisation.”

Mr Erdogan has long been accused of supporting jihadist terror groups.

European intelligence reports claimed that “forces” in his ruling party commissioned the Isis suicide attacks on a 2015 Ankara peace rally in which at least 109 people were killed.

In August, it was revealed that the Turkish National Intelligence Organisation had been smuggling scores of former Isis fighters across the Syrian border to lead battalions in the occupation of Afrin, which Ankara’s military invaded in January 2018.

Turkey is also alleged to have been the main buyer of oil originating from Isis sources in Iraq [and Syria].

In late 2015, Mr Erdogan and his family were accused by Russia of personally benefiting from the criminal oil trade.

Last month senior Isis commander Taha Abdurrahim Abdullah, a close confidant of deceased Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, claimed Mr Erdogan ordered the attack on the largely-Kurdish city of Kobane in 2014.

More recently Turkey allied with jihadists to invade northern Syria where it is accused of war crimes, including extrajudicial executions, rape and the use of chemical weapons.

Turkish regime deports refugees to Syrian war

This July 2019 video says about itself:

Turkey: Syrian refugees deplore upcoming raids and deportations in Istanbul

Syrian refugees expressed their concern and criticism towards authorities in Istanbul that set a four-week deadline for Syrians with a Temporary Protection Identification Document (TPID) to return to the provinces they are registered in or to face a forced transfer. The August 20 deadline was issued via a statement from the Istanbul Governor’s Office on Monday.

According to that statement, Syrians are required to carry their TPID or passports on them at all times.

A refugee residing in Istanbul shared his fear following the announced deportations: “We reach home terrified. Until we reach home we fear that someone might stop us, talk to us, or so. This is not the way we used to live. Where is the humanity?”

He added that “there is no work except in Istanbul, they are targeting us a lot. We are refugees; I raise my voice to the countries of the world pleading with them to stand with us. Everyone is deporting us, no one is supporting us at all, this is not right. Turkey hosted us for seven years, then finally they are sick of us.”

Another Syrian refugee said that “they capture them on the way, here, and in the streets, whoever does not have a TPID is taken and deported without taking into consideration that they have families and children.”

Istanbul authorities indicated that about 547,479 Syrians are under temporary protection in the Turkish capital.

Some media reported that hundreds of Syrians mainly residing in Istanbul have allegedly been deported back to areas in northern Syria, including the province of Idlib.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Turkey beat, threatened and misled Syrian refugees back to war zones

TURKEY illegally deported Syrian refugees ahead of their anticipated “safe zone” action, Amnesty International (AI) said yesterday.

Turkish police beat and threatened refugees into signing documents stating they were asking to return to war zones in Syria, the organisation found through interviews.

Others were told that they were signing a registration document which confirmed that they had received a blanket from a detention centre, or a form that expressed their desire to remain in Turkey.

The government has claimed that those who returned to Syria did so voluntarily.

Records from the Turkish authorities claim that 315,000 people have returned to Syria voluntarily.

AI researcher on refugee and migrants’ rights Anna Shea said: “Turkey’s claim that refugees from Syria are choosing to walk straight back into the conflict is dangerous and dishonest.

The European Union and the rest of the international community, instead of devoting their energies to keeping people seeking asylum from their territories, should dramatically increase resettlement commitments for Syrian refugees from Turkey.”

Senior Isis commander alleges Turkey‘s President ordered 2014 attack on Kobane: here.

The Communist volunteers fighting the Turkish invasion of Syria. A foreign fighter in the INTERNATIONAL FREEDOM BATTALION talks about the war to defend Rojava and the role of global solidarity: here.

THE case against Turkey for a chemical weapons attack during its invasion of northern Syria continued to grow today after the testimony of a doctor who treated the victims confirmed the use of white phosphorus: here.

CHEMICAL weapons inspectors have abandoned investigations into the alleged use of white phosphorus by Turkey on Kurds in northern Syria, saying on Saturday it falls outside of their remit. International investigators from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said they would not examine tissue samples from victims of last month’s attack because white phosphorus injuries are produced by thermal, rather than chemical, properties: here.

Trump’s ‘ceasefire’ OKs Erdogan invasion of Syria

This 12 October 2019 video says about itself:

Protesters across the world condemn Erdoğan‘s invasion of northeastern Syria

Thousands of Kurdish residents of Qamishli and Tal Abyad protested against the Turkish invasion of northern Syria. Solidarity protests with Kurds, and against the Turkish invasion were also organized in the UK, Germany, Spain and other countries. Protesters condemned the offensive as yet another attempt by Turkish president Tayyip Erdoğan to suppress the struggles of Kurdish people.

By Bill Van Auken in the USA:

US claims “ceasefire” deal in Turkey’s invasion of Syria

18 October 2019

The Trump administration claimed Thursday that it had achieved a major diplomatic victory by negotiating a “cease-fire” in the eight day old Turkish offensive against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The US president had himself green-lighted the invasion in an October 6 phone call with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and then pulled back US Special Forces troops deployed on the Syrian-Turkish border to facilitate the operation.

Announced at a press conference convened by US Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the US embassy in Ankara, the existence of a “cease-fire” was immediately denied by Turkish officials, who asserted that they would never reach such a deal with “terrorist” forces. Ankara regards the YPG, which served as the Pentagon’s main proxy ground forces in the so-called war on the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as a branch of the PKK, the Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey, against which it has waged a brutal counterinsurgency campaign for the past three decades.

The Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a 13-point “Joint Turkey US Statement on Northeast Syria” Thursday afternoon. Nowhere does the document mention a cease-fire, instead stating that Turkey will “pause” its offensive in Syria for 120 hours “to allow the withdrawal of the YPG”. Once the Kurdish militia is driven from the Syrian-Turkish border—the principal objective of the Turkish invasion—the military campaign dubbed Operation Peace Spring will be halted, according to the terms of the agreement.

The document begins by affirming the status of the US and Turkey as NATO allies and goes on to declare Washington’s understanding of Ankara’s “legitimate security concerns on Turkey’s southern border” and to affirm a commitment to “protecting NATO territories and NATO populations against all threats.”

Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkey’s foreign minister, said after the meeting between Erdogan and the US officials, “We got what we wanted … This means that the US has approved the legitimacy of our operations and aims.”

The deal also promises that no new US sanctions will be imposed against Turkey, and that existing sanctions will be lifted once the military operations in Syria are brought to a halt.

The invasion by the Turkish army has killed several hundred and sent at least 200,000 Syrian Kurds fleeing south for their lives. Atrocities have been attributed to Turkish-backed Islamist militias, drawn from the same Al Qaeda-linked forces that were previously armed and funded by the CIA in the regime change war against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Preening before the cameras in Fort Worth, Texas, Trump described the deal with Turkey—which amounted to Washington’s ceding to all of Ankara’s demands—as historic, “something they’ve been trying to get for 10 years, everybody, and they couldn’t get it.” He asserted that “millions of lives” had been saved, as if the shaky pause in the fighting on Syria’s northern border meant an end to the country’s eight year old conflict. He credited the deal to his “unconventional” approach and “rough love.”

In a rare statement of truth, Trump blamed the Obama administration for having “lost more than half a million lives in a very short period in the same region” during the protracted regime change operation launched in 2011.

The day before the Pence-Erdogan meeting in Ankara, Trump had told a White House press conference that the fighting on the Turkish-Syrian border had “nothing to do with us” and was “not our problem”. He referred dismissively to the YPG, which suffered some 11,000 casualties in the US intervention in Syria, suggesting that they were mercenaries who were “paid a lot of money to fight”, adding that they were “no angels”.

In response to growing bipartisan criticism, the White House also released an October 9 letter to Erdogan in which Trump warned the Turkish president that he would be seen as a “devil” if Turkey continued its offensive, while telling him “Don’t be a tough guy. Don’t be a fool!” Turkish officials reported that Erdogan threw the letter in the trash and responded by stepping up the military assault in Syria.

The joint statement issued Thursday declares US-Turkish agreement on the establishment of a “safe zone in order to address the national security concerns of Turkey”, adding that this zone will be “primarily enforced by the Turkish Armed Forces and the two sides will increase their cooperation in all dimensions of its implementation.”

The statement gives no precise definition of the “safe zone”, nor spells out what role the US will play in its imposition. Pence told the press conference in Ankara that it would extend roughly 20 miles south of the Turkish-Syrian border but gave no indication of what length of the border it would cover. The Erdogan government has indicated its intention to occupy a 200-mile strip covering all of northeastern Syria from the Euphrates River to the Syrian border with Iraq.

Ankara has long advocated the creation of a “safe zone” inside the Syrian border, both to break up the semi-autonomous region carved out by the Kurds, and to create an area for the training and arming of Islamist militias in order to escalate the bloody sectarian civil war launched with the purpose of overthrowing Assad.

And to deport Syrian refugees in Turkey (who are not from north east Syria) to.

Erdogan has also stated his intention to send millions of Syrian Sunni Arab refugees from Turkey into the “zone”, an exercise in ethnic cleansing against the Kurds.

The demand for such a “zone” has been echoed by US Republicans like the late Senator John McCain, as well as Democrats such as Hillary Clinton, who made it part of her 2016 presidential platform. Both supported it as a means of prosecuting the war for regime change in Syria.

The US-Turkish proposal for carving out a “safe zone” is further complicated by the deployment of Syrian government troops along with Russian military units, which have moved into the cities of Kobane and Manbij, taking over bases abandoned by the US Special Forces that Trump ordered to withdraw. Syrian government troops have also moved into Raqqa, the former “capital” of ISIS which was decimated by US airstrikes.

The Kurdish militia forces announced on Sunday that they had invited the Syrian government and Russian forces to fill the vacuum left by the withdrawal of US troops in order to protect the population from the Turkish invasion. According to some reports, YPG militiamen in the border areas have integrated themselves into the government forces.

While Pence claimed at the press conference in Ankara that the Erdogan government had agreed not to engage in any military action in the Syrian city of Kobane, Foreign Minister Cavusoglu directly contradicted the US vice president, saying, “We did not make any promises about Kobane,” and that the issue would be discussed with Russia. …

While condemning the “betrayal” of the Pentagon’s erstwhile Kurdish proxy forces, the principal concern among politicians of both big business parties is that Trump has ceded ground in the Middle East to both Russia and Iran.

Faced with mounting political crisis, as well as intensification of the class struggle and social tensions within the United States, the threat of an escalation of US militarism in the region will intensify, regardless of the deal struck in Ankara. The danger is that the increasingly complex conflicts on the Syrian-Turkish border can erupt into a wider war, dragging in the entire region as well as the world’s two major nuclear powers, the US and Russia.

Fighting continued in northeastern Turkey in the wake of an agreement struck Thursday between US Vice President Mike Pence and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. At least 14 civilians were reported killed Friday in air strikes and shelling near the bitterly contested Syrian border town of Ras Al-Ain: here.