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The Evolutionary Perspective
Category Archives: NATO
Posted: October 16, 2019 at 4:46 pm
What about the air base though? Incirlik [the base the U.S. Air Force uses in southern Turkey] is an albatross, said one former senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. But there are people in [the U.S. government] for whom Turkey is sacrosanct and all of its problemsbusting U.S. sanctions, holding Americans hostage, threatening other NATO allies like Greece, supporting jihadists, buying Russian weapons, not to mention internal oppression and ongoing purges are our fault. Truth is, we cant do much at Incirlik. We need Turkeys permission to blow our nose there.
On the Turkish side, too, the marriage has been one of serial disappointments and misunderstandings. A February article in the pro-government Daily Sabah ran through a litany of issues with the alliance: Turkey, wrote the papers politics editor, Seyma Nazli Grbz, is the second-largest military in the alliance, is a key partner in Afghanistan and elsewhere, hosts NATO initiatives around its own territory, and contributed more than $100 million in 2018. (This is short of the 2 percent of its defense budget that Trump has insisted all NATO members pony up.)
But NATO disappointed Turkey more than once over the yearswhen the U.S. refused to side with the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, when Germany accused Turkey of killing civilians in its battle with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in its own country in the 1990s, and through Americas ongoing refusal to hand over Fethullah Glen, the U.S.-based leader of a Turkish political movement that Erdoan blames for orchestrating the 2016 coup attempt. Over time, siding with terrorists rather than Turkey became a pattern for many NATO member countries, particularly the U.S., Grbz wrote.
Read: Trumps gift to ISIS
Two U.S. presidential administrations running have now sided with Kurdish fighters in Syria tied to the PKK over Turkeys strenuous objections. Since Sunday, however, the dynamic seems to have shifted, and Trumpwho has been sharply critical of the NATO alliance himself, and who has touted his administrations achievements against ISISopted to take a NATO partners side over the Kurdish forces who did so much to help defeat the Islamic State. The shift was so sudden, it left officials at the State Department and the Pentagon scrambling to explain it and contain the fallout. In a phone call with the Turkish defense minister yesterday, U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said the incursion risks serious consequences for Turkey, according to the Pentagons readout.
Once again, as Erdoan sees it, some of his allies are siding with the terrorists. Hey, European Union, pull yourself together, he said in a speech yesterday. If you try to label this operation as an occupation we will open the gates and send 3.6 million refugees your way.
Separately, at the United Nations Security Council, the NATO allies France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, and Poland introduced a statement condemning Turkeys incursion into Syria. Turkey did have an ally on its side there. Ironically, given the alliances Cold War roots, America joined with Russia and declined to endorse it.
Yara Bayoumy contributed reporting.
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Why Is Turkey in NATO Anyway? - The Atlantic
Congressman Suggests Turkey Could Be ‘Kicked Out’ of NATO: ‘I Don’t Think They’re An Ally Today’ – Newsweek
Posted: at 4:46 pm
Congressman Eric Swalwell suggested Tuesday that Turkey could be "kicked out" of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) because of its invasion of Syria, saying he didn't view the nation to be acting like an ally.
"Turkey is also a NATO ally and I don't think they want to be kicked out of NATO, which I think is also something that I think may be on the table," Swalwell, a Democrat who represents California's 15th District, said in an interview with CNN. "We should in a bipartisan way seek to ... change Turkey's behavior."
He then criticized President Donald Trump for his handling of Syria policy and relations with Turkey, arguing that leadership should "come from the top."
"If in secret phone calls with Turkeys leaders [Trump's] essentially giving them a greenlight, and then when he gets the blowback from the American press and people at home changes the policy," Swalwell said, "you know, Turkey, how do they interpret that? That's very confusing for them."
"I don't think they're an ally today, but that can change," he asserted.
Trump has received significant bipartisan backlash to his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northeastern Syria, allowing for Turkey to move in with its forces. The president's decision came after a phone call with Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdoan last Sunday. A source with Trump's National Security Council told Newsweek last week that the president got "rolled" by Erdogan during the call.
"President Trump was definitely out-negotiated and only endorsed the troop withdraw to make it look like we are getting somethingbut we are not getting something," the official said.
As a result of Trump's decision, Turkey has moved into Syria and targeted the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which had been a key U.S. ally in the fight against the Islamic State (or ISIS). Turkey has long been in conflict with the Kurds, and Republican and Democratic lawmakers predicted accurately that Erdogan's forces would target the group. Now the Kurds have allied themselves with the Syrian government led by President Bashar al-Assad, a foe of the U.S. Hundreds of ISIS affiliates and some ISIS fighters have also escaped from detention camps in the chaos surrounding the Turkish advance.
The president has now implemented economic sanctions against Turkish officials but continued to defend his decision to withdraw U.S. forces. Top Republican and Democratic lawmakers are pushing for harsher sanctions, and pushing for the president to reverse the withdrawal, which they argue will embolden ISIS as well as American foes Iran and Russia.
Swalwell is not the first member of Congress to suggest Turkey could be removed from NATO due to its actions. GOP Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who has been one of the harshest critics of Trump's decision despite normally aligning with the president, said last week he would call for Turkey's "suspension from NATO."
However, despite the lawmakers' remarks, NATO has no mechanism allowing the 29-nation alliance to expel a member. Although members can voluntarily withdraw under Article 13 of the treaty, there is no such avenue to force a country out. A new article would have to be written, and that would be subject to approval by all members, including Turkey. It would seem highly unlikely that Turkey would voluntarily withdraw or agree to an article that could allow it to be kicked out.
"The historical record is that NATO deals with these problems by privately sanctioning the member violating alliance values, but does not officially terminate their membership," Jorge Benitez, an expert on NATO with the Atlantic Council think tank recently told Stars and Stripes.
Posted: at 4:46 pm
Kick Turkey out of NATO? It wouldn't be easy
STUTTGART, Germany Turkeys invasion of Syria has generated widespread international condemnation, infuriated allies and raised questions about whether the countrys inclusion within NATO should be reconsidered.
But even if there was consensus inside NATO about kicking Turkey out, the 70-year-old military alliance faces this key obstacle: no mechanism exists in NATOs founding charter for revoking a states membership.
While Article 13 in NATOs Washington Treaty offers a way for a county to quit, the charter is silent on how to force out a member state that has fallen out of favor.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., on the eve of Turkeys Wednesday push into northern Syria, said he would call for their suspension from NATO if the U.S.s Kurdish partners in the fight against the Islamic State group came under attack.
Similar statements have been made this week by some European politicians and former American military leaders, who say Turkeys incursion into Syria should be answered with suspension or expulsion from the 29-nation NATO alliance.
Other international organizations such as the United Nations and European Union have legal mechanisms for suspending and even removing members, but NATO does not, said Jorge Benitez, a NATO expert with the Atlantic Council think tank.
The issue has been raised several times before, when the behavior of a NATO member is in conflict with the values of the alliance and the spirit of the Washington Treaty, such as (past) military coups in Greece and Turkey, Benitez said.
Should NATO ever decide to remove a member, it would have to amend its treaty. And that would mean getting unanimous support from all members, including Turkey.
During the course of NATOs history, members have fallen out of favor numerous times and debates have swirled about how to deal with a recalcitrant ally.
In 1974, allied leaders discreetly debated suspending Portugals membership in NATO following a leftist coup, Benitez said.
Instead, the Portuguese were quietly sanctioned and excluded from most NATO activities during 1974-1975.
The historical record is that NATO deals with these problems by privately sanctioning the member violating alliance values, but does not officially terminate their membership, Benitez said.
Ultimately, NATO leaders wait out the misbehaving national leaders until a government consistent with alliance values eventually returns to power, he said.
It is important to note, that in these cases NATO members act more strongly outside of the alliance, through their bilateral relationships with the offending government, Benitez said.
For example, the U.S. Congress cut off military aid to Turkey after it intervened in Cyprus in the 1970s. Turkey responded by cutting off American access to military bases in the country.
A current example would be Norway, which on Thursday announced it will block exports of military equipment to Turkey.
Inside NATO, there are other steps allies can take to punish a member, such as withholding information and excluding them from alliance meetings, Benitez said.
For its part, NATO continues to emphasize that Turkey is an ally in good standing.
Turkey is a valued ally, said a NATO official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. We have deep relations that allies built over decades.
On the issue of how the alliance would go about expelling a member, the official said, this is a hypothetical question, which would be a matter for the parties to the treaty to determine.
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Kick Turkey out of NATO? It wouldn't be easy - Stars and Stripes
Posted: at 4:46 pm
The alliance between the United States and the rest of NATO has begun fraying in recent yearsat the very moment when the threat posed by both Russia and China is surging. NATO was founded in 1949 on a promise of mutual self-defense. But U.S. President Donald Trump has raised new questions about Americas commitment to that promise, heightening fears across the alliance.
This week onAnd Now the Hard Part, we trace the roots of the problem and talk about how to fix it.
My concern is simply that if we ever had a catastrophic moment or a security crisis, do the rest of the members of NATO feel secure enough in the way the United States supports them that they would support us if we needed them? said the Brookings Institution scholar Victoria Nuland, a former assistant secretary of state and the guest on our show this week.
It depends on how long this seeding of doubt about our own reliability continues.
Listen to the episode on this page or subscribe and download wherever you get your podcasts.
About And Now the Hard Part: The world is a particularly confusing and daunting place these days: Russian bots, North Korean nukes, trade wars and climate emergencies. To understand it better, Foreign Policy and the Brookings Institution are teaming up for an 8-part podcast series. On each episode, host Jonathan Tepperman and a guest from Brookings discuss one of the worlds most vexing problems and trace its origins. And then, the hard part: Tepperman asks the guest to focus on plausible, actionable ways forward.Jonathan Tepperman, Foreign Policys editor in chief, hosts the podcast. The guests are some of the smartest and most experienced analysts aroundall scholars from the Brookings Institution, including former government and intelligence officials.See All Episodes
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How to Heal the NATO Alliance - Foreign Policy
Fighting the bureaucracy: For NATO, the Defender 2020 exercise in Europe will test interoperability – DefenseNews.com
Posted: at 4:46 pm
WASHINGTON Defender 2020 in Europe is set to be one of the largest exercises the continent has seen in decades. And while it will test the U.S. Armys ability to project capabilities from the continental United States to nations across Europe, the opportunity will also put NATO to the test.
The U.S. and its NATO partners and allies acknowledge none of them will fight alone in a war against an aggressor in Europe, and thus operating jointly is critical but also difficult.
The U.S. Army has several years of experience performing tactical readiness drills at the brigade level in Europe through its gapless rotations of armored brigade combat teams and combat aviation brigades. But with Defender, the service will demonstrate strategic readiness, testing its ability to respond with force and project itself across Europe in coordination with its fellow NATO members and partners, Lt. Gen. J.T. Thomson, the head of NATO Allied Land Command, told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Armys annual conference.
The exercise will test all the systems that go with that kind of strategic reinforcement, he said.
Defender 2020 is set to be the third-largest military exercise in Europe since the Cold War, Lt. Gen. Chris Cavoli, the U.S. Army Europe commander, told Defense News in an exclusive interview earlier this month. The division-scaled exercise will test the Armys ability to deliver a force from fort in the United States to port in the United States, and then to ports in Europe, and from there to operational areas throughout the continent, including Germany, Poland, the Baltic states, Nordic countries, and Georgia, among others, Cavoli said.
The exercise will involve at least 15 NATO countries and two partner nations, Thomson said. And NATO specifically will participate at the corps level down to the tactical level, Thompson noted.
From a land forces standpoint, the demonstration of collective defense is our best deterrent, he said.
Were actually doing collective defense, and I stress collective, just not one or two nations, he said. This is from fort to port. This isnt just a river crossing or a specific fight, its very comprehensive in nature.
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While the U.S. puts its National Defense Strategy Multi-Domain Operations concept to the test in Europe, NATO will evaluate its own strategic approach, according to Thomson.
For NATO, its ability to receive forces and equipment from the U.S., stage them, move them forward onto the battlefield and integrate them will be the focus throughout the exercise. Though this has been simulated before, in this case, were not simulating it, we are doing it, Thomson said. Once those forces get integrated, were actually going to conduct defensive operations collectively.
Crucial to NATO will be evaluating the current state of military mobility and ensuring countries can seamlessly operate together. But those are also the biggest challenges, Thomson said.
During the Defender exercise, theater mobility will be put to the test at a massive scale something that hasnt always been easy.
Defense News flew on a Black Hawk from Bulgaria to Romania during the U.S. Army-led exercise Saber Guardian in 2017 with then-U.S. Army Europe Commander Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges when crew members were alerted they might have to land for an unanticipated customs check. The delay would have caused the general, who was leading the entire exercise, to miss a live-firing demonstration on the Black Sea.
A few emails and phone calls later, the stopover was diverted. But the experience highlighted the red tape the military runs into on a regular basis. Hodges called for the establishment of a military schengen zone that would ease border crossings, but that evolved to a focus on military mobility across Europe.
Since then, the European Union has worked to improve crossings for militaries and their equipment over the past several years to ensure rapid movement.
But there are still hiccups, Thomson said. During Defender, participants must move massive amounts of equipment and troops across countries in the northeast of the continent. The effort will test infrastructure and border policies. Forces will have to cross through EU member countries and nations that are not part of the organization, such as Norway, and each nation has its own set of rules, policies and procedures.
Ensuring nations can be interoperable has been a challenge for NATO. Im fond of saying theres no such thing as 100 percent interoperability, not even within nations, Thomson said, but we are headed in the right direction on interoperability. We test it and train on it daily across NATO through work with the enhanced forward presence units in Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia and at other episodic exercises.
This one is an outstanding opportunity to do it at division, corps and joint task force level, Thomson said. We dont do that that often.
At the exercise, interoperability will be tested as U.S. Army Europe serves as a combined joint force land component command and a NATO corps operates underneath it alongside American divisions. The scale of this one will give us very good lessons and some good azimuth to work into the future, Thomson explained.
From 2020 onward, the Defender exercise will become an annual series taking place in both the Pacific and Europe, but every other year will be a light year referring to the number of participating troops the acting U.S. Army Pacific commander, Lt. Gen. John Pete Johnson, told Defense News in a recent interview. The drill in Europe will be heavy this year, and the Pacific version will be smaller. In 2021, the Pacific-based Defender will have its turn being the larger of the two.
Secretary General in Istanbul: Turkey is a great power in this great region and with great power comes great responsibility – NATO HQ
Posted: at 4:46 pm
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Turkey on Friday (11 October 2019) to discuss preparations for the NATO leaders meeting in London this December, marking NATOs 70th anniversary. Mr. Stoltenberg met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoan. They discussed the Alliances continued adaptation and the security situation in the region. In his meeting with Foreign Minister Mevlt avuolu, the Secretary General thanked Turkey for its commitment and many contributions to NATO.
In his meetings in Istanbul, Mr Stoltenberg also discussed the situation in Syria. He underlined that while Turkey has legitimate security concerns, I expect Turkey to act with restraint.Mr. Stoltenberg expressed his serious concerns about the risk of further destabilising the region, escalating tensions, and even more human suffering. He emphasized that We have a common enemy Daesh. A few years ago, they controlled significant territory in Iraq and in Syria.Working together in the Global Coalition, we have liberated all this territory and millions of people. These gains must not be jeopardized.
Turkey is a great power in this great region, the Secretary General stressed, and with great power comes great responsibility. Mr. Stoltenberg urged Turkey to avoid any unilateral actions that may further destabilize the region and escalate tensions.
During his visit, the Secretary General had also discussions with Turkish Defence Minister Hulusi Akar.
Posted: at 4:46 pm
In May 2008, the U.S. Department of Defense and the German Ministry of Defence signed a memorandum of understanding concerning Cooperation on Information Assurance and Computer Network Defense. Computer network defense (CND) refers to actions taken on computer networks to monitor and protect those networks. It is not the only memorandum the U.S. Department of Defense has signed with allies on cyber defense.
In late 2016, U.S. Cyber Command operators wiped Islamic State propaganda material off a server located in Germany. The German government was notified in some fashion but not asked for advance consent, causing much frustration. While U.S. Cyber Commands reported action may have violated Germanys sovereignty, it didnt explicitly violate the memorandum. It wasnt an act of CND; it was a computer network attack (CNA), seeking to disrupt, deny, degrade or destroy.
This reveals an uneasy situation within cyber cooperation: Allies do not agree on the appropriate procedures and boundaries for offensive cyber operations. More specifically, there is no agreement on when military cyber organizations can gain access to systems and networks in allied territory to disrupt adversarial activity. As I have argued previously, this issue may end up causing significant loss in allies trust and confidence. My proposed solution: NATO allies should establish memoranda of understanding on offensive cyber effects operations in systems or networks based in allied territory.
Objectives of Out-of-Network Operations in Allied Networks
Allied states may operate in each others systems or networks in at least three ways: as an observer, gathering intelligence on adversarial activity in others networks; as a passerby, transiting through allied systems and networks to access a certain adversarial target; or as a disrupter, seeking to cause friction for an adversarys operation within an allys network or system. The German case discussed above is the only publicly known case of a state acting as a disrupter in an allied network. But we can expect that more of these cases will be publicly disclosed in the future.
It has now been widely discussed that the U.S. Cyber Command has undergone a significant shift in strategic thinking away from deterrence toward persistent engagement and defend forward. Following these recent changes in strategic thinking, U.S. Cyber Command seeks to cause friction wherever the adversary maneuvers, operating globally, continuously and seamlessly. In a similar vein, NSA director and Cyber Command head Gen. Paul Nakasone writes in an article for Joint Force Quarterly: We must maneuver seamlessly across the interconnected battlespace, globally, as close as possible to adversaries and their operations, and continuously shape the battlespace to create operational advantage for us while denying the same to our adversaries.
While one may expect adversaries to maneuver in allied networks, the U.S. is currently the only NATO state that makes causing friction in allied networks a necessary and explicit component of its strategy. Other military cyber organizations could follow in the near future.
And we already see countries moving in this direction. On Aug. 1, the Communications Security Establishment Act (CSE) came into force in Canada. According to the Canadian government, CSE could be authorized to proactively stop or impede foreign cyber threats before they damage Canadian systems or information holdings, and conduct online operations to advance national objectives. The Canadian government does not explicitly talk in its latest strategy about the need to operate globally, continuously and seamlessly or to cause friction wherever the adversary maneuvers. In that regard, it needs to do more strategic thinkingas other countries doon the exact role of cyber operations on allied networks in the military context.
But the proposed memorandum of understanding on cyber offense addresses exactly this possibility.
The Goal of the Memorandum of Understanding
The goal of the proposed memorandum is to reduce discord among the allies; enhance trust, transparency and confidence between allies; and improve the effectiveness of disrupting and deterring adversaries operations in cyberspace.
The scope of the memorandum should include (a) developing a common notification equity framework for out-of-network operations that seek to achieve cyber effects in allied systems or networks; (b) identifying procedures for communicating the consideration and conduct of offensive cyber effects operations between states against systems or networks in allied territory; and (c) identifying technical solutions and administrative documentation required for the continuous exchange of information on offensive cyber operations.
In writing the memorandum, states first and foremost should agree on the equities involved in permitting signatories to conduct cyber effect operations in each others networksand the relative weight of those equities. Equities that should be considered include (a) the ability of an actor to take action to negate known threats on or to the other parties networks and systems; (b) the likelihood that an action will negate known threats; (c) the imminence and scale of the threat; (d) the risk of collateral damage; (e) whether the computer system or network is government owned or privately owned; and (f) the certainty that the system or network will be used to achieve strategic effects by the adversary.
There are three open questions about the memorandum of understanding.
I. Should the Proposed Memorandum Be NATO-Wide or Bilateral?
There are benefits of negotiating a NATO-wide agreement, including ensuring it contributes to the defense of all NATO members networks and enhances resilience across the alliance. It could also guard against the potential that persistent engagement and defense forward might be exploited by adversaries, as I argued previously:
Adversaries dont randomly choose which intermediate nodes to direct their operations through. If Russia has the choice to go through a network that would raise some serious diplomatic friction between the U.S. and a U.S. ally, or operate through a network that would cause no diplomatic friction for the U.S., what would it prefer? It would make sense for adversaries to operate through the networks of exactly those countries with which the U.S. has a strong relationship but that do not want the U.S. to operate within their networks causing any effects.
But there are constraints on a NATO wide-memorandum, too. To start, not all states are equally willing to share intelligence information. A bilateral agreement would make it easier to tailor the notification equity framework to the specific preferences and capabilities of both governments.
II. Can It Be Used as a Public Signaling Device?
The notification equity framework part of the memorandum of understanding can remain classified. Governments might not get it right the first time. As the framework might need tweaking, immediate public disclosure is risky. But a public version, if crafted carefully, can also help to set the parameters of what Michael Fischerkeller and Richard Harknett call agreed competition. That is, it can help clarify where adversaries are allowed and not allowed to go within each others networks. If we want stability in cyberspace, this is a mechanism by which to achieve it.
III. Should the Memorandum Also Address Cyber Operations Beyond Allied Networks?
A memorandum of understanding narrow in scopethat is, addressing the allies conduct of cyber effect operations taking place only in systems or networks in allied territorywould ignore the negative impact on allied intelligence operations and capabilities beyond these systems and networks.
Military cyber organizations are operating in a global environment historically dominated by intelligence agencies, and the Five Eyes has always been the most dominant actor in cyberspace. But the anglophone intelligence alliance is not the only intelligence actor operating across the world. Recent casessuch as the Dutch s General Intelligence and Security Service infiltration into the Russia-based network of the infamous hacking group Cozy Bearhave illustrated the continued global prevalence and value of allies intelligence operations beyond the Five Eyes alliance.
If military cyber organizations increasingly take up the role of disrupter, it may negatively impact global intelligence collection of alliesparticularly those countries that favor long-term access over immediate effect. It will also more likely uncover and burn allied capabilities.
The risks of occurring are higher than one may think as intelligence agencies have a tendency and incentive to target and track the same entities. For example, in late 2014, cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab reported on the Magnet of Threats. The cybersecurity company discovered a server belonging to a research organization in the Middle East that simultaneously hosted implants for at least five Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) actors: Regin and the Equation Group (English language), Turla and ItaDuke (Russian language), Animal Farm (French language) and Careto (Spanish language). Consider what would have happened if one of those five APT groups had sought to cause a disruptive effectrather than collect intelligenceagainst the target in the Middle East. It likely would have resulted in much earlier discovery and analysis by threat intelligence companies (or other actors) exposing the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) of each actor group.
Also, even the anticipation of more cyber effect operations in nonallied networks from one allied state could lead to a change in operations by another state. Indeed, states have shown in the past that the anticipation of early discovery of an operation has led to a change in their TTPs. For example, the National Security Agency (NSA) created an exploit orchestrator called FoxAcid, an Internet-enabled system capable of attacking target computers in a variety of different ways, depending on whether it is discoveredor likely to be discoveredin a given network. FoxAcid has a modular design, with flexibility allowing the NSA to swap and replace exploits and run different exploits based on various considerations. Against technically sophisticated targets where the chance of detection is high, FoxAcid would normally choose to run low-value exploits.
Not a Silver Bullet
While I argue that the NATO memorandum of understanding on offensive cyber operations in systems or networks based in allied territory can greatly help in promoting stability and enhancing confidence among allies, it is not a silver bullet. It can only reduce allied concerns rather than mitigate them. Military cyber organizations may still conduct effect-based operations in allied territory without consent, leading allies to assert that their sovereignty has been violated. And theres another crucial player involved. As Gen. Nakasone noted in the Joint Force Quarterly article, cyberspace is owned largely by the private sector. They deserve a seat at the table as well.
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NATO Allies Need to Come to Terms With Offensive Cyber Operations - Lawfare
Posted: at 4:46 pm
President Trump might not be particularly thrilled with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the moment, but that didn't stop him from echoing one of his Turkish counterpart's favorite arguments.
Speaking to reporters Wednesday while meeting with Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Trump defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria and, in the process, abandon Washington's Kurdish allies, by pointing out that the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, are "worse at terror and more of a terrorist threat, in many ways" than the Islamic State, whom Kurdish forces, including the PKK, have fought against alongside U.S. forces. Erdogan, who considers Kurdish nationalists forces a security threat against Turkey, has been pushing that idea for quite some time.
Trump later reiterated the point during the press conference and said that even ISIS respects the PKK because its fighters are "as tough or tougher" than ISIS, while also making the case that the allegiance between U.S. and Kurdish forces was too pricey.
Now, as some experts have pointed out, the PKK is not an entirely peaceful political party, but rather a pro-independence movement that has been in an armed conflict with Turkey for decades and is recognized as a terrorist organization by the U.S. So, while Trump may be generally misinformed about the historical context surrounding the PKK's struggle with Ankara and off base in his ISIS comparisons, there is some validity to the idea that they are "no angels," as the president argued. Tim O'Donnell
Here is the original post:
Biden warns Trump's re-election will bring the end of NATO - The Week
Posted: at 4:46 pm
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu shakes hands with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg after a news conference in Istanbul, Turkey, October 11, 2019. REUTERS/Huseyin Aldemir
ISTANBUL (Reuters) - Turkey has reiterated to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg that it expects the alliance to show strong solidarity with Ankara against threats to Turkish security, Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said on Friday.
Speaking alongside Cavusoglu at a news conference in Istanbul, Stoltenberg said he expected Turkey to act with restraint in its push into Syria, adding that the international community must find a sustainable solution for Islamic State prisoners held by Kurdish forces in Syria.
As Ankara pressed on with an offensive against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria, Stoltenberg said Turkey must ensure that progress in pushing back Islamic State in Syria was not jeopardized.
(This story corrects second paragraph to say international community, not NATO)
Reporting by Can Sezer; Writing by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Kevin Liffey
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Turkey says it expects solidarity from NATO against threats - Reuters
Posted: at 4:46 pm
It's been one week since President Trump ordered US forces out of northern Syria which critics say is effectively abandoning America's allies on the battlefield.
Thousands of people have been displaced and many Kurds have been killed.
The fast-deteriorating situation was set in motion last week when Trump ordered US troops in northern Syria to step aside. Turkey quickly stepped into the void and began attacking the Kurdish people who live there.
Mass atrocities are being committed against the Kurdish people at the hands of Turkish-backed militias, including some ex- al Qaeda fighters.
It's a move that's leaving a trail of displacement, destruction, and death.
The United Nations estimates at least 130,000 people have been displaced by the fighting and hundreds more have been killed.
Syria's Kurds say Syrian government forces have agreed to help them fend off Turkey's invasion, which marks a major shift in alliances.
The shift could lead to clashes between Turkey and Syria and raises the chances of an ISIS resurgence in the region.
With Turkey quickly advancing, Trump has ordered all remaining US forces out of northern Syria. Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Sunday that Trump had directed US troops in northern Syria to begin pulling out "as safely and quickly as possible." He did not say Trump ordered troops to leave Syria, but that seemed like the next step in a combat zone growing more unstable by the hour.
Esper said the US withdrawal would be done carefully to protect the troops and to ensure that no US equipment was left behind. He declined to say how long that might take.
Many on both sides of the political aisle at home and abroad call the president's actions a betrayal of an ally.
"Leaving an ally behind is abandoning people that we frankly told we are going to be with, is disheartening, depressing and frankly it is weak," Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) told CBS's "Face The Nation" on Sunday.
US Pastor Andrew Brunson prayed for President Trump to have God's wisdom during the Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC Saturday night. Trump helped free the pastor who had been falsely imprisoned in Turkey where he was a missionary for 24 years.
"Father God, I ask now for an impartation of your Holy Spirit," Brunson prayed. "May the fullness of the spirit of Jesus rest upon President Trump that he be anointed with wisdom and understanding, with your counsel and might, with knowledge and fear of the Lord. And accordingly, may President Trump not judge by what he sees with his eyes or decide by what he hears with his ears or lean on his own understanding but may he recognize your prompting and move according to your guidance."
Meanwhile, the Trump administration has threatened Turkey with economic penalties for its invasion.
"Big sanctions on Turkey coming!" Trump tweeted on Monday, and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that while no final decision on sanctions had been made, the president's national security team was meeting again to consider a way ahead.
The fast-moving events of the past week have revealed an extraordinary breakdown in relations between the United States and Turkey, which have been NATO allies for decades. Turkish troops have often fought alongside American troops, including in the Korean War and in Afghanistan. Some believe Turkey is becoming, even more, friendlier to Russia and should be thrown out of NATO.
The chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) said the US and its NATO partners should consider expelling Turkey from the alliance. "How do you have a NATO ally who's in cahoots with the Russians, when the Russians are the adversaries of NATO?"