By Robert A. Vella
Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria against the Kurds entered its second day in the wake of President Trump unilaterally withdrawing U.S. forces from the region. Initial reports put the death toll at over one hundred with masses of civilian refugees fleeing the area. In the opinion of many, including myself, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is waging an ethnic cleansing campaign against the stateless Kurdish people whom he has labeled as “terrorists.” Trump’s publicly-stated rationale for the withdrawal is characteristically nonsensical, but his underlying motives are easier to discern. It appears that Trump made a deal with Erdogan in the hopes of bringing Turkey back to his side after it had purchased Russian arms and cancelled its order for U.S. F-35 fighter jets (see: Trump reportedly offered to sell F-35 jets to Turkey in exchange for not attacking Kurdish forces in Syria). In Trump’s twisted mind, keeping Erdogan under his wing (a delusional assumption, in my opinion) was worth sacrificing the Kurds who have been by far America’s strongest ally against the Islamic State (a.k.a. ISIS, ISIL).
What the simpleton Trump didn’t anticipate was the worldwide outrage over the Turkish invasion. While it is no surprise that Iran (the Shiite Muslim archenemy of Sunni Muslim ISIS) and Russia (under the opportunistic Vladimir Putin) would be in an uproar, the backlash from Europe, Israel, neighboring Arab states (Sunni Muslim), and Trump’s own political party appear to have blindsided him. The reaction from congressional Republicans is a peculiar blend of anger over Trump’s troop withdrawal and hypocrisy over the concurrent impeachment inquiry in the House of Representatives. For example, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) has announced veto-proof bipartisan sanctions against Turkey while also asking fellow Republican senators to sign a loyalty oath to President Trump regarding impeachment in a shocking move reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s 1934 oath of allegiance to Adolf Hitler. Meanwhile, in another surprising development, Fox News has released a poll showing a majority of Americans now supporting the impeachment of President Trump and his removal from office.
AKCAKALE, Turkey (AP) — Turkish ground forces seized at least one village from Kurdish fighters in northern Syria as they pressed ahead with their assault Thursday, launching airstrikes and unleashing artillery shelling on towns and villages the length of its border.
The Turkish invasion, now in its second day, has been widely condemned around the world. In northern Syria, residents of border areas scrambled in panic as they tried to get out on foot, in cars and with rickshaws piled with mattresses and a few belongings.
It was wrenchingly familiar for the many who only a few years ago, had fled the advances on their towns and villages by the Islamic State group.
“President Trump and President Erdogan have reached an understanding over precisely what this operation is,” Gulnur Aybet said from Ankara on Wednesday. “He knows what the scope of this operation is.”
Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland on Wednesday announced a framework to place immediate sanctions on senior Turkish government officials, ban all US military business and military transactions with Turkey, and immediately activate 2017 sanctions on the country until Ankara stops its operations against the Kurds.
Both Pentagon and State Department officials had advised Trump against making the move, arguing a US presence is needed to counter ISIS and keep Iran and Russia, both influential inside Syria, in check.
Graham, usually a stalwart Trump ally, is predicting his sanctions legislation on Turkey will have a veto-proof majority in the Senate, making it impossible for Trump to stop.
President Trump’s decision to suddenly withdraw U.S. troops from northern Syria has angered evangelical Christian leaders and Republican hawks, cleaving his political coalition at the very moment he is trying to fortify his standing to survive the intensifying impeachment inquiry in Congress.
Instead of enjoying uncontested GOP support as he plunges into a constitutional showdown with House Democrats and prepares for a bruising reelection campaign, Trump is now fighting on two fronts within his party.
The president simultaneously has been laboring to silence dissent over his conduct in pressing Ukraine to investigate a domestic political rival and over his Syria decision — a move critics blame for Wednesday’s Turkish offensive.
A new high of 51 percent wants Trump impeached and removed from office, another 4 percent want him impeached but not removed, and 40 percent oppose impeachment altogether. In July, 42 percent favored impeachment and removal, while 5 percent said impeach but don’t remove him, and 45 percent opposed impeachment.
Since July, support for impeachment increased among voters of all stripes: up 11 points among Democrats, 5 points among Republicans, and 3 among independents. Support also went up among some of Trump’s key constituencies, including white evangelical Christians (+5 points), white men without a college degree (+8), and rural whites (+10).
Among voters in swing counties (where Hillary Clinton and Trump were within 10 points in 2016), support for impeachment increased to 52 percent, up from 42 percent in July.
WASHINGTON — Two foreign-born donors to a pro-Trump fundraising committee who helped Rudy Giuliani’s efforts to investigate Democrat Joe Biden were arrested late Wednesday on criminal charges of violating campaign finance rules and are expected to appear in court on Thursday, according to people familiar with the matter.
Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two Florida businessmen, have been under investigation by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan, and are expected to appear in federal court in Virginia later on Thursday, the people said. The men’s nationalities was unclear, though both were believed to have been born in former Soviet republics.
Mr. Giuliani, President Trump’s private lawyer, identified the two men in May as his clients. Both men have donated to Republican campaigns, including Mr. Trump’s, and in May 2018 gave $325,000 to the primary pro-Trump super PAC, America First Action, through an LLC called Global Energy Producers, according to Federal Election Commission records.
President Donald Trump pressed then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to help persuade the Justice Department to drop a criminal case against an Iranian-Turkish gold trader who was a client of Rudy Giuliani, according to three people familiar with the 2017 meeting in the Oval Office.
Tillerson refused, arguing it would constitute interference in an ongoing investigation of the trader, Reza Zarrab, according to the people. They said other participants in the Oval Office were shocked by the request.
Tillerson immediately repeated his objections to then-Chief of Staff John Kelly in a hallway conversation just outside the Oval Office, emphasizing that the request would be illegal. Neither episode has been previously reported, and all of the people spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the conversations.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) on Wednesday tried to derail the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump by asking Senate Republicans to sign a loyalty oath.
“I’m going to ask my colleagues in the Senate — Republicans — to sign a letter saying we do not believe the transcript of the phone call between the president and the Ukraine is an impeachable offense,” Graham told Fox News.
From: Hitler oath
The term Hitler oath (German: Führereid or Eid auf den Führer, “Oath to the Leader”) — also often referred to in English as simply the Soldier’s Oath or Soldiers’ Oath — refers to the oaths of allegiance, sworn by the officers and soldiers of the German Armed Forces and civil servants of Nazi Germany between the years 1934 and 1945. The oath pledged personal loyalty to Adolf Hitler in place of loyalty to the constitution of the country.