- Former government official in Burkina Faso
- Turkish private intelligence operative with a Western firm
- Turkish investigative journalist
The Syria Withdrawal
Talk of a U.S. withdrawal from Syria sparked rumors—first surfacing from a question posed by former NATO commander General Wesley Clark—as to whether Turkey had blackmailed Trump into a pullout. A Turkish private intelligence source on the ground in Istanbul describes Clark’s claim as baseless for three reasons: 1) Turkish officials were as shocked as the rest of the world at news of a U.S. withdrawal; 2) Turkey doesn’t actually want the U.S. to pull out of Syria because that would harm its own interests in multiple ways; 3) Although likely unintentional, the withdrawal announcement serves several U.S. interests, which Turkey does not share. Namely, it stalls and controls the upcoming Turkish operation, leaving the military burden of fighting ISIS on Turkey’s shoulders and the economic burden on Saudi Arabia’s, paving the way for rapprochement between these two hostile countries, while also removing a pillar of Turkey’s politics on the balance of power between Moscow and Washington. The withdrawal (which will just be replaced with air strikes on ISIS positions when necessary) makes sense for the United States, whose only point in being there was to counter Russian and Iranian influence, at which they have failed. ISIS has not been defeated in Syria, as a side note to anyone who has taken this propaganda to be fact. This is largely now a Russian game. For oil, in the near and medium term, it’s a Kurdish game, and the Kurds—who control a key oil producing region, have been selling to the Iranians while at the same time being backed by the U.S.—a sore point for Trump and another excuse for the withdrawal. At the same time, watch all the Gulf countries—Iran’s enemies—stake their official presence in Syria now. The UAE and Bahrain have already reopened their embassies in Damascus, and Kuwait signaled it would follow suit. This is a major coup for Assad, who will benefit financially as the Arab nations buy their influence as a bulwark against Iran.
India and Iran Loophole
India’s government has exempted from taxes all payments made to the National Iranian Oil Company by local refiners for crude oil imports in the latest indication one of Asia’s…