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Turkey-Syria War On The Horizon: Airstrikes Target Invading Turkish Army Convoy

Turkey-Syria War On The Horizon: Airstrikes Target Invading Turkish Army Convoy

Turkey and Syria could be headed for war as their armies increasingly clash on front lines in southern Idlib, also amid a heavy aerial bombardment by Syrian and Russian jets of al-Qaeda held Khan Sheikhoun.

On Monday a Turkish convoy came under attack by Syrian airstrikes while traversing a highway headed toward Khan Sheikhoun. Damascus has accused Turkey of seeking to aid terrorists in the besieged town, which had been site of prior chemical attack claims issued by anti-Assad fighters, and fired “warning shots” on the approaching armored convoy, killing and injuring some among the pro-Turkish force.

Turkish convoy in southern Idlib on Monday, via the AFP

The convoy is said to be laden with ammunition resupplies for local “rebels” battling the Syrian Army in southern Idlib province. Ankara’s position has been to claim massive Syrian-Russian airstrikes are a violation of prior agreements between Russia, Turkey, and Syria. 

At least one fighter from a Turkish-backed faction was reported killed in the airstrikes on the convoy, which halted its movement south, along with many injured. Some reports said there were multiple among the dead.

Turkey’s defense ministry “strongly” condemned the incident, with statements out of Damascus saying Turkey is seeking to resupply terrorist groups on Syrian soil. 

Replying to @BabakTaghvaee

Another video showing the military convoy of #Turkish occupiers being bombed by Su-22M4s of #Syria Arab Air Force near #MaarTahroma, #Idlib outskirt. Multiple Turkish soldiers are reported to be killed & some of their BMC Kirpi MRAPs and M-60 tanks are damaged or destroyed.

Embedded video

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…



Is a New US Mideast War Inevitable?

Is a New US Mideast War Inevitable?

Is a New US Mideast War Inevitable?

In this new century, leaders of both parties have plunged our country into at least five wars in the Middle and Near East… None of these wars has produced a victory or success for us. But taken together, they did produce a multitrillion-dollar strategic and human rights disaster.

In October 1950, as U.S. forces were reeling from hordes of Chinese troops who had intervened massively in the Korean War, a 5,000-man Turkish brigade arrived to halt an onslaught by six Chinese divisions.

Said supreme commander Gen. Douglas MacArthur: “The Turks are the hero of heroes. There is no impossibility for the Turkish Brigade.”

President Harry Truman awarded the brigade a Presidential Unit Citation.

In 1951, Turkey ended a neutrality dating to the end of World War I and joined NATO. In the seven decades since, there has been no graver crisis in U.S.-Turkish relations than the one that erupted this week.

Turkey has just received the first components of a Russian S-400 air and missile defense system, despite U.S. warnings this would require the cancellation of Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.

“The F-35 cannot coexist with a Russian intelligence collection platform that will be used to learn about its advanced capabilities,” said the White House.

The sale has been canceled. The Turkish pilots and instructors training in the U.S. are being sent home. Contracts with Turkish companies producing parts for the F-35 are being terminated. Under U.S. law, the administration is also required to impose sanctions on Turkey for buying Russian weaponry.

Wednesday, the Pentagon warned Turkey against military action in an area of Syria where U.S. troops are deployed. The Turks appear to be massing for an incursion against U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish forces Ankara regards as terrorist allies of the Kurdish PKK inside Turkey.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey’s Erdogan Vows To “Significantly” Cut Rates As Trump Set To Roll Out Sanctions Over S-400 Purchase

Turkey’s Erdogan Vows To “Significantly” Cut Rates As Trump Set To Roll Out Sanctions Over S-400 Purchase

Lately not a week passes without some dismal news involving Turkey hitting the tape, and yet the lira continues to levitate, blissfully ignorant of the storm clouds headed for Ankara, levitating on hopes the Fed will cut rates and sprinkle golden showers on emerging markets. However, in light of the two latest developments, the Mrs Watanabe sellers of USDTRY may finally pay attention.

On Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan – who last weekend fired the head of the central bank for not cutting rates fast enough, and who has now become the de facto head of the CBRT – promised “significantly lower interest rates by the end of the year“, Bloomberg reported.

“We aim to reduce inflation to one digit by the end of this year,” Erdogan told journalists in Istanbul, according to the state-run Anadolu news agency. “As we achieve this, we will achieve our year-end interest rate target as well.” Of course, should interest rates drop to one digit, the USDTRY will promptly collapse to two, as the rate differential between the lira and the dollar collapses, removing the main incentive to go long the lira at a time when the Turkish economy remains in crisis.

Having founded the economic school of Erdoganomics, according to which inflation can be achieved only by lowering rates, the Turkish president and his US counterpart have quickly become kindered spirits when it comes to monetary policy. And just as Trump heaps pressure and insults on Fed Chair Powell, Erdogan has frequently accused the central bank of keeping borrowing costs too high. Last month, he complained that while the Fed was moving toward a rate cut, Turkey’s policy rate of 24% “is unacceptable.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey & the Real Risk of a Debt Crisis

Turkey & the Real Risk of a Debt Crisis 

The Treasury and Finance Ministry of Turkey announced that the country’s net external debt stock totaled $286.2 billion going into the end of the 3rd quarter of 2018. The country’s net external debt stock to its gross domestic product (GDP) ratio was 34.4% at the end of the third quarter of 2018. However, Turkey’s gross external debt stock amounted to $448.4 billion at the end of the 3rd quarter, bringing the debt/GDP ratio to 53.8% according to the official figures.

Interestingly, because of the fear of the Turkish lira, Turkish corporations have been often compelled to borrow in dollars. Therefore, the private sector’s share in the country’s gross external debt stock was 68.2% ($305.9 billion), while some $215.9 billion of this amount consisted of long-term debts with a maturity of more than one year. The Turkish public sector’s share of this debt was 30.6% in the country’s total foreign debt, which is about $21.4 billion in short-term (under one year) with $115.7 billion in the long-term (over one year). The banking sector’s (lenders and the central bank) external debt stock was $176.99 billion at the end of the 3rd quarter.

When we break this down further, 58.5% of the total gross external debt is denominated in U.S. dollars with only 32.3% denominated in euros. The amount denominated in Turkish lira among the external debt stock was a trifling 5.9%. This illustrates the crisis that will emerge with a change in the currency values.

Is Turkey “City Zero” in Global Contagion

Is Turkey “City Zero” in Global Contagion

Last year Turkey’s lira crisis quickly morphed into a Euro-zone crisis as Italian bond yields blew higher and the euro quickly reversed off a major Q1 high near $1.25.

It nearly sparked a global emerging market meltdown and subsequent melt-up in the dollar.

This week President Erdogan of Turkey banned international short-selling of the Turkish lira in response to the Federal Reserve’s complete reversal of monetary policy from its last rate hike in December.

The markets responded to the Fed with a swift and deepening of the U.S. yield curve inversion. Dollar illiquidity is unfolding right in front of our eyes. 

Turkish credit spreads, CDS rates and Turkey’s foreign exchange reserves all put under massive pressure. Unprecedented moves in were seen as the need for dollars has seized up the short end of the U.S. paper market.

Martin Armstrong talked about this yesterday:

The government [Turkey] simply trapped investors and refuses to allow transactions out of the Turkish lira. Turkey’s stand-off with investors has unnerved traders globally, pushing the world ever closer to a major FINANCIAL PANIC come this May 2019.
There is a major liquidity crisis brewing that could pop in May 2019. 

Martin’s timing models all point to May as a major turning point. And the most obvious thing occurring in May is the European Parliamentary elections which should see Euroskeptics take between 30% and 35% of seats, depending on whether Britain stands for EU elections or not.

That depends on Parliament and the EU agreeing to a longer extension of Brexit in the next two weeks.

Parliament has created “Schroedinger’s Brexit,” neither alive nor dead but definitely bottled up in a box no one dares open. And they want to keep it that way for as long as possible. Their hope is outlasting Leavers into accepting staying in the gods-forsaken fiscal and political black hole that is the European Union.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

On The Edge Of Collapse: Turkish Lira Plummets As Central Bank Burns Through A Third Of Reserves

On The Edge Of Collapse: Turkish Lira Plummets As Central Bank Burns Through A Third Of Reserves

The Turkish lira resumed its plunge on Thursday following a sharp rebound on Tuesday when Turkish authorities unleashed an unprecedented assault on lira shorts, helping push the TRY briefly higher ahead of regional elections, after a disappointing reading on the central bank’s net FX reserves stoked fears that the country was even closer to a full-blown currency crisis than investors had feared, while local accounts continued to accumulate foreign currency after overnight swaps on the Turkish Lira collapsed to just 40% from a historic high around 1,338% on Tuesday.

After nearly a week of chaos that one trader described as unprecedented in his two decades in the market (“I’ve never seen a move like this in the 21 years I’ve been watching the market“), it appears President Erdogan has relented, and following a vocal outcry from the international community which was effectively trapped in lira positions, both long and short, after overnight swaps hit rates well above 1,000%, on Tuesday the swap plunged as low as 18.5%, in line with recent historical prints, and an indication that after doing everything in its power to squeeze shorts (and longs) the central bank appears to have capitulated.

As we reported previously, bankers and analysts at large international banks reported that Turkish lenders appeared unable or unwilling to provide lira in exchange for currency this week, in an attempt to prevent short selling. While Turkey’s banking association (TBB) on Wednesday night denied claims that the country’s lenders had been limiting or halting sales of lira to foreign banks, one London-based analyst told the FT on Tuesday that Turkish banks told him they had been ordered “not to lend even a single lira to foreign counterparties” That squeeze sent the cost of borrowing lira soaring for foreign banks and hedge funds, although as shown above, it has since tumbled.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey On Verge Of Collapse As Overnight Swaps Hit 700%, CDS Soar

Turkey On Verge Of Collapse As Overnight Swaps Hit 700%, CDS Soar

In Turkey’s ongoing attempt to crush currency manipulators, yesterday we reported that in addition to launching a “probe” against JPMorgan, the biggest US bank, for daring to cut its TRY price target, as well as threatening unnamed “manipulators”, on Monday Turkish authorities took a page of the Chinese currency manipulation playbook, when they made it virtually impossible for foreign investors to short the lira as they soaked up virtually all intermarket liquidity, potentially threatening to kill the economy.

As we reported yesterday, the overnight swap rate on Monday soared more than ten-fold over the prior two sessions to more than 300%, the highest spike on record going back to the nation’s 2001 financial crisis as offshore funds clamoring to close out long-lira positions failed to find counterparties and the cost of a lira short exploded.

Think Volkswagen short squeeze but for a currency, or FXwagen.

Well, FXwagen went turbo on Tuesday, when this unprecedented move continued as Turkish Lira swaps exploded again, more than doubling overnight, and hitting an insane 700%, with some reporting prints as high as 750%

There was just one problem: whereas on Monday this “shock therapy” meant to force out the shorts did in fact work, sending the Lira soaring, and the USDTRY tumbling, the continuation of this painful squeeze no longer has a positive impact on the currency, where as of this point most of the shorts had already been stopped out. As a result, the USDTRY actually rose for the day, and was up to 5.4272, after hitting 5.3051 on Monday.

Commenting on this unprecedented move in swaps, Bloomberg’s Mark Cudmore notes that he doesn’t recall “seeing this happen to any liquid and freely tradeable currency in the past 15 years.”

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The CIA, Lost In The Orinoco

The CIA, Lost In The Orinoco

René Magritte The black flag 1937

One thing I am not is an expert on Venezuela. What I know is the country has the world’s largest oil reserves, mainly in the Orinoco Belt, but they come in a form of tar sands that while they are not as hard to exploit as Canada’s (viscosity), they’re far from easy, and buried deep. And I know Venezuela had Hugo Chávez as its president, who, for a socialist, was quite successful at what he did (depending who you ask).

And I know of course that the US yesterday recognized an opposition leader, Juan Guaido, as the ‘real’ president of Venezuela, instead of the elected Nicolas Maduro, whom Chávez picked as his successor. Soon as I read that, I thought: CIA. If Chávez, and Maduro, are hated in one place in the world, look no further than Langley, Virginia. 

So I looked up a few articles I though would be interesting to read. The first comes from a site called Venezuela Analysis, an entity recommended for Venezuela news. They had the article below, but also this enlightening picture:

Note: in 2002, coincident with the attempted coup against Chávez, half the employees at state oil company PDVSA went on strike. They must have felt like clowns, too, 48 hours later. 

The article explains what happened in terms you can find everywhere (but are perhaps good to note), except for the last bit: 

Venezuelan Opposition Leader Guaido Declares Himself President, Recognized by US and Allies 

Opposition leader Juan Guaido swore himself in as “interim president” of Venezuela on Wednesday, a move which was immediately recognized by the United States and regional allies. “As president of the National Assembly, before God and Venezuela, I swear to formally assume the competencies of the national executive as interim president of Venezuela,” he declared before an opposition rally in eastern Caracas.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Trump’s Biggest Lie?

Trump’s Biggest Lie?

Trump’s Biggest Lie?

INTRODUCTION

(NOTE: Remarks from US President Donald Trump that will be considered as representing possibly his biggest lie will here be boldfaced, so that they will stand out from the context in which he stated them.)

Trump escalated Bush’s and Obama’s invasions and military occupations of the sovereign nations of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria. But on January 7th, he promised, in one of his thousands of lying tweets, that, “Endless Wars, especially those which are fought out of judgement mistakes that were made many years ago, & those where we are getting little financial or military help from the rich countries that so greatly benefit from what we are doing, will eventually come to a glorious end!”

Then, on Sunday, January 13th, he tweeted that if Turkey won’t do in Syria what he, the US President, wants it to do there, then the United States will be in the first official stage of war against Turkey, the economic-sanctions phase, which nowadays is the prelude to an invasion, as has been the case since 1990 regarding Iraq. On January 13th, he tweeted, “Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….” Minutes later, he tweeted“…Likewise, do not want the Kurds to provoke Turkey. Russia, Iran and Syria have been the biggest beneficiaries of the long term US policy of destroying ISIS in Syria – natural enemies. We also benefit but it is now time to bring our troops back home. Stop the ENDLESS WARS!”

First, here, will be discussed his January 7th string of lies, in order to isolate which one of those was the biggest:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey’s Debt Crisis Deepens, Erdogan Bails out Banks His Way

Turkey’s Debt Crisis Deepens, Erdogan Bails out Banks His Way

Shifting bad consumer & business debts from banks to the public, but the way this bank bailout got packaged is pretty nifty.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has launched a raft of measures ostensibly designed to reanimate the economy, including offering direct financial support for people with credit-card debt. The plan will enable Turkey’s maxed-out consumers to go to the biggest state-run lender, Ziraat Bank, and apply for debt rescheduling at low rates of interest. “Any retail client from any bank can apply,” Erdogan said.

Credit-card debt is a major problem. Since 2010 consumer credit has increased almost five-fold on the back of low interest rates (at least in certain foreign currencies), government incentives, and loose loan standards. By August 2018, when these pillars supporting Erdogan’s debt-fueled economic miracle began to buckle, outstanding non-housing consumer debt, peaked at 532 billion Turkish lira ($97 billion at today’s exchange rate, chart via Trading Economics):

About half of this amount is credit card debt. About one-third of the credit-card debt was considered to be non performing. A good portion of this debt is denominated in foreign currency, such as the euro or dollar, to get access to the low interest rates available in those currencies. And this foreign-currency debt is now, after the lira’s exchange rate has fallen, very hard to service. In other words, the government’s scheme is likely to have plenty of takers.

“The debts of citizens who are having repayment problems will be collected under a single umbrella, via Ziraat Bank,” Erdogan said. “They will pay off their debt with a loan from Ziraat and will pay it back according to the level of their monthly earnings.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkey Dismisses Trump’s Threat To Devastate Economy Over Kurds

Turkey has brushed off a Sunday threat by President Trump to “devastate” them economically if they attack the Kurdish militia (YPG) in northern Syria, which US forces have fought alongside against the Islamic State (IS).

Turkey regards the YPG as terrorists.


Starting the long overdue pullout from Syria while hitting the little remaining ISIS territorial caliphate hard, and from many directions. Will attack again from existing nearby base if it reforms. Will devastate Turkey economically if they hit Kurds. Create 20 mile safe zone….


You cannot get anywhere by threatening Turkey economically,” said Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu.

Trump announced in December that the US would withdraw all troops from Syria as the Islamic State had been “defeated,” a move which shocked allies and resulted in the resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Concerns remain that Kurds from the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), which are are under YPG leadership, would fall under attack by Turkey once the US withdraws.

Last week Turkey’s leaders, including the defense minister, described preparations underway for another major Turkish assault on US-backed Kurdish positions east of the Euphrates, following the exit of American advisers based on Trump’s previously announced pullout. That said, Trump said on Sunday that he would thwart any Turkish invasion plans with a “20 mile safe zone,”

Presumably this “safe zone” will be towards protecting American forces while precise exit logistics take shape, and will occur simultaneously to the US pounding remnant ISIS positions; however the details remain uncertain.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Turkish Lira Tumbles As Tanks Amass Along Syrian Border

After an already painful start for the Turkish lira this year, shedding more than 3.5% of its value against the dollar during the first three days of 2019 when it flash crashed after Mrs Watanabe puked on the carry trade after Apple shockingly guided lower, and after early this week the lira slid lower amid renewed tensions between the US and Turkey following hopes that the feuding NATO members might finally be setting aside their differences, dashed after Bolton’s snub heard round the world by President Erdogan, the lira is now tumbling on fears of further military escalation in Syria.

Prior file phone, via Reuters

On Friday Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported Turkey has deployed tanks on the border along Syria’s Idlib province. Turkey’s defense minister further announced preparations for an invasion of Syrian Kurdish enclaves east of the Euphrates “continues intensely”.

“We have Manbij, and the east of Euphrates ahead. Necessary planning was made regarding this. Our preparation continues intensely,” Defense Minister Hulusi Akar said while inspecting troops near the border with Syria, according to Anadolu.

The uncertainty and fears of another major flare-up following last year’s ‘Operation Olive Branch’ sent the lira diving to session lows, and is approaching levels last seen at the start of November.

Turkey has billed its plans as a “counter terror” op, with the defense minister noting dubiously, “We have no problems with our Kurdish brothers, Arab brothers in Syria, Turkmens and other ethnic and religious groups. Our only targets are terrorists Daesh and PKK/YPG.”

Turkey has for months stated plans to eradicate the presence of the Kurdish YPG, which it considers a terror extension of the outlawed PKK, from near Turkey’s borders.

The question is how will the US (and Israel/Iran/Russia) respond once Turkey follows though with the action so many had been expecting and invades, again.

 

U.S.’s Defeat in Syria is a Crisis of Empire

U.S.’s Defeat in Syria is a Crisis of Empire

The U.S. lost in Syria. Donald Trump finally had the courage to admit that to the world when he ordered the pull out of all U.S. troops there.

Syria was to be the sparkling jewel in the Empire of Chaos’ Crown. A masterstroke of realpolitik which would advance every major U.S., Israeli and Saudi objective while thoroughly destabilizing the Levant and setting the stage for wiping out Iran and eventually Russia.

If the Assad government fell Syria would become something worse than Libya. It would become a source of abject chaos for decades to come. And the formation of greater Kurdistan would put advanced U.S. and Israeli military assets on Iran’s doorstep.

Carving up Syria, Iraq and possibly even Turkey, once Erdogan was removed from power, would put the U.S. and Israel in control of the oil assets to fund a jihadist-led insurgency across all of central Asia.

Moreover, the chaos would ensure a steady stream of refugees into Europe to destabilize it. That chaos would lead to further political integration of Europe under EU control.

You can see the remnants of this plan all around you today. In fact, a great deal of it is still on auto-pilot. Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron’s tag-team calls for ceding national sovereignty to the EU are a perfect example of this.

They can all feel the project slipping away from them. Despite their failing political power they are pushing their legislatures to ignore the people, calling them traitors.

Orwell would be proud of Macron for saying, ““patriotism is the exact opposite of nationalism [because] nationalism is treason.”

The generals Trump just fired over his decision are another example. They still believe they can win a balkanization of Syria and Iraq. They just need more assets and more time.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

US Troops Out, Syrian Army In: Kurdish City Handed Back To Damascus As Turkey Poised To Invade

After days of Turkey mustering huge military forces poised to enter the northwestern Syrian Kurdish town of Manbij, and just as American advisers have pulled out of the area based on Trump’s broader Syria draw down, what many analysts saw as impossible throughout seven years of war has suddenly happened: the de facto autonomous Syrian Kurdish region has formally invited the Syrian Army to take control to prevent the invading Turks from seizing it.

Damascus has now confirmed government forces have entered Manbij in a move likely to stave off a full-scale Turkish offensive. An official statement  said government forces were already entering the city in what is among the most historic moments signalling Assad is likely to take back all of natural Syria: “Considering the Arab Army’s duty and in a response to a call by the people of Manbij, the Syrian general staff announces that the Army has entered Manbij and raised the flag of the Syrian Arab Republic there,” the statement cited by Syrian media said.

Syrian pro-government channels indeed showed the national flag raised over municipal buildings in Manbij early Friday.

As pro-Turkish rebels as well as Turkey’s Army stationed forces along the province’s western border for what Ankara called an “anti-terrorist operation” around the city, with the Kurdish YPG being the target (as Ankara considers the group an extension of the outlawed PKK), the Syrian Army likewise has built up troops in the area over the past days ready to take back sovereign Syrian territory.

Shortly before handover the town to the Syrian Army, the YPG issued an official statement announcing its withdrawal to positions east of the Euphrates where it will engage remaining ISIS pockets. The YPG spokesman stated:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

Who Was Secretly Behind America’s Invading and Occupying Syria?

The invasion and occupation of Syria by tens of thousands of jihadists who were recruited from around the world to overthrow Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad, was financed mainly by US taxpayers and by the world’s wealthiest family, the Sauds, who own Saudi Arabia and the world’s largest oil company, Aramco. America’s international oil companies and major think tanks and ‘charitable’ foundations were also supportive and providing propaganda for the operation, but the main financing for it came from America’s taxpayers, and from the Saud family and from the Government that they own.

One of the best articles that the New York Times ever published was by Mark Mazzetti and Matt Apuzzo, on 23 January 2016, “US Relies Heavily on Saudi Money to Support Syrian Rebels”. They reported that, “the C.I.A. and its Saudi counterpart have maintained an unusual arrangement for the rebel-training mission, which the Americans have code-named Timber Sycamore. Under the deal, current and former administration officials said, the Saudis contribute both weapons and large sums of money, and the C.I.A takes the lead in training the rebels. … From the moment the C.I.A. operation was started, Saudi money supported it.” Furthermore, “The White House has embraced the covert financing from Saudi Arabia — and from Qatar, Jordan and Turkey.” But “American officials said Saudi Arabia was by far the largest contributor to the operation.” The invasion and occupation of Syria by jihadists from around the world was primarily a Saud operation, though it was managed mainly by the US Government.

Prior to the failed US-backed coup-attempt on 15 July 2015 to replace Tayyip Erdogan as Turkey’s President, Turkey was part of the U.S-Saudi alliance to overthrow and replace Syria’s Government. But afterwards, Turkey increasingly switched against the US and Sauds, and toward instead supporting the target of the Sauds and of America’s aristocrats: Syria.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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