This Year’s Halloween Card

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Each year my daughter Pam creates her own  Halloween and a Christmas cards for all of those on her mailing list.  Each is painstakingly done by hand and many who receive them save the card each year.

 

Including her dad.

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Above is her creation for Halloween, 2019

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Boo!

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Dancing With Syrians – From the Archives – 2015

100 block of Atlantic Avenue (north side), Brooklyn Heights, New York

Arab Brooklyn – Damascus Bakery, Sahadi’s,  and Reginella Pizza on the same street

I grew up in Brooklyn.  Most of you know that.  One of the good things about growing up in Brooklyn was the contact with the numerous other cultures and peoples living there.  It was the land of immigrants from everywhere.  It still is.

My neighborhood was a “little Italy”.  It was one of many “littles” – the places where those coming from somewhere else found their roots.

My girl, the woman I would marry in 1963, went to a high school filled with Italian kids – as well as Norwegian kids and Syrian kids.  One of her best (and best looking!) girl friends was a Syrian.

All of us hung around in the same soda shoppes and drive-ins on Saturday nights and got to know each other and families well.

How many were the tales of Aleppo and Damascus, of Beirut and Khalil Gibran heard from Arab fathers and grandfathers to go along with stories of Bari and Messina, Reggio and Garibaldi.  Many of the “Syrians” came from Iraq, Jordan or Lebanon but identified as Syrians.  Today the new faces in Arab Brooklyn are the Yemenis.

Arab Brooklyn still exists along Atlantic Avenue where the coffee is thick and sweet and the meat halal; the pastry still tasting of pistachio, honey or rose water.

I was always right at home in Arab Brooklyn as they were in Italian Brooklyn.

Many a time my future father-in-law would take the bus before an upcoming holiday to visit Alwan’s Bakery, bringing home several boxes of Arab pastry and baklava.  His daughter and I would later follow in the footsteps he left for us.

The center of Syrian life in Brooklyn was the Syrian Young Men’s Association, the SYMA.  SYMA is still located in Brooklyn Heights: on Atlantic Avenue, which many people see as the center of Arab Brooklyn.   I hear that the real energy today comes from Bay Ridge, where more  recent generations of Arab immigrants have settled along with the grandchildren of those I knew when I was young.

In the 1960s, SYMA took on more of a citizens’ watchdog  role, protesting gentrification plans that would have driven working and middle-class Arab American New Yorkers out of Brooklyn Heights.

SYMA today is a place “where the men are not necessarily young or Syrian, but do share a taste for the thick coffee that used to be available up and down Atlantic Avenue”

Yet Arab Brooklyn remains as do some of the the shoppes where we bought our pastries fifty years ago.   “As late as 1974 one could still walk into the back room of Mahmoud Alwan’s pastry shop and experience a small shudder of excitement as if one were stepping out of the glaring street into the dappled light of the Damascus suq. Under a skylight stood a large, bald man in a white apron, his eyes intent on an enormous cauldron of hot oil into which he flicked small dollops of dough with a spoon. “He knew how to flick it just right,” recalls a neighbor. Skimmed off at the right moment and drenched in sugar syrup, Alwan’s ‘awwamat tasted other-wordly.”

Mahmood Alwan would retire comfortably and close his bakery, to be replaced by other Arab bakeries and restaurants, opened by new comers. The Damascus Bakery, Sahadi’s and the Oriental Pastry Shop form a nucleus of old stores that remain from the early years. Though several others have closed, new stores have been opened by more recent immigrants to the avenue. Old or new, each food shop has its own loyal customers.

Food is ostensibly what Atlantic Avenue’s Middle Eastern section is about, and much of the general public samples it either at the festival or in its restaurants. Though two of the major restaurants are owned by Yemenis and one is Moroccan, the hot spices of Yemen and the intricate stews of Morocco are bypassed by nearly all in favor of a Levantine menu. “There is some variation in quality and taste among the restaurants – the pastry at Adnan’s is said to be the best, and the spicy fish at the Tripoli, the mazzah at Sido’s and the lentil soup at Bourock’s – but their similarities are greater than their differences.”

Just as evocative as the food is the hospitality, for one may receive a truly Arab welcome here – the hand over the heart at the Bourock – and be left in peace to take as much time as desired over a meal or pastry and coffee served by a young Yemeni who waits on tables at Adnan’s Restaurant and studies economics at New York University.    It has always been thus, one need only walk in and take your seat.

Each year when I was young SYMA would hold a dance to raise money for local charities.  And each year with our Arab friends my young wife and I would attend along with many other non-Arabs.  And we would dance the night away highlighted by Arab music  and Syrian women, young and old, with scarfs attached to a ring on their finger, dancing and whirling, doing the dabke as our women did the tarantella, forgetting the problems, the differences. the sorrows as we celebrated life and our common humanity in our new country.

Lately I have been feeling for those Syrians trudging on the roads;  for you see, though I do not know them, I have danced with them.

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Deaf and Blind – From the Archives – 2015

Yesterday in Syrian Kurdistan

Do we faintly hear the wail of women
over shrouds of sons and daughters?
She fed them just a bit ago
now they’re gone
taken by an errant bomb.

When she gonna rid herself
of all that baby weight?
Did you see her wow ‘em just last year
at that super fabulous Paris premier
with that dress slit up to there?

Do we faintly hear the wail of women
over shrouds of sons and daughters?
Couldn’t feed them; drought to blame
losers in the hunger game.

Did you see who won on Dancin’?
I can’t believe they were voted off!
Who is Taylor now romancin’?
How much for a pic of Blue?
How much?

Do we faintly hear the wail of women
over shrouds of sons and daughters?
Holding her blinded little boy
“fog of war” in “line of fire”
collateral damage on a Reuter’s wire.

She’s become such a style icon
combining that flirty mini-dress
with a form hugging blue blazer
perfect Spring shoes and bag
I love her new hair color.

Do we faintly hear the wail of women
over shrouds of sons and daughters?
Raped and murdered in the camps
while Western girls get bikini waxed
ready for Summer?

The Empire of the Deaf and Blind
pursuing the banal
all knowing Oz behind the curtain
trumpeting to the vacuous
how we are exceptional.

The drowning of the little boy
should haunt us to the end of days;
tearless the enemies of peace
Oh Lord, bring forth a cleansing flood of tears.

Embedded image permalink

Remember him?

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On Re-Watching Carnavale

I am not one for television,

Well, let me clarify a bit.  I get my entertainment on a television but rarely watch anything produced on the major television networks in America.

Other than sports and the evening news.

I have absolutely no interest, zero, none in the likes of America’s Got Talent, The Voice, Big Brother, Survivors, The Batchelor et al.  Neither do I care for “good” cop shows, lawyer shows, doctor shows etc.  I simply don’t know any in real life so I can’t relate.  I had two cops in the family and currently have five lawyers.  And I certainly don’t know any doctors who went into medicine to cure the sick and help the poor.

Nope.

I watch the kind of shows that interest me and are for the most part, well done.  None of these appears on network television.  What I watch is not for everyone’s taste though many were quite popular and ran for years.

I watched Game of Thrones; seems everyone did though I didn’t not become a fanatic partisan as to who should be King.  Didn’t get angry and take to the internet because my guy didn’t wind up on the throne.  In fact, I kind of suspected the ending.

I thoroughly enjoyed Downton Abbey and will look forward to seeing the movie eventually.  I watched Vikings regularly though it was filled with historical inaccuracies, characters who lived centuries apart appearing in the same scene.  No matter.   I found it entertaining.  I watched Mad Men and Breaking Bad.

I will watch a foreign series with sub-titles (never dubbed!).  Recently saw Dark, set in a small German town at the access to a hole for time travel.  Life and Fate, a Russian series based on the magnificant novel of Vassily Grossman about the life of a middle class family during Stalingrad and Josep Stalin.  I watch Admiral, also a series in Russian about the life of white Admiral Kolchak and his mistress Anna Timireva as he remained faithful to the Czar during the Russian Civil War.  And I watched Novecento in Italian with sub-titles.

Living alone, I can watch what I like.

Which brings me to one of my all time favorites – Carnavale.

Carnivàle was perhaps just too weird for 2005. It was planned to be a six series show, but was cancelled after ratings dropped in Series 2, which was and still is a real shame.  The show was notoriously expensive to produce, at some $4 million an episode and, despite winning 5 Emmy’s and nominated for dozens more, HBO pulled the plug.

“We were left at the end of Series 2 on a cliffhanger.   I won’t reveal what that was for those of you who have not seen the show, and please don’t be put off watching for that reason.  Carnivàle is so deep in mystery that it is still totally worth your time, and even though the planned storyline was never to be finished there is enough to reward viewing over and over again. Carnivàle crammed more into its two seasons than many shows fit in eight.”

Now don’t get me wrong; the first and major arc of the storyline was finished.  It is just that the door was left ajar for so much more which never came.

. The opening credits feature the art of a tarot card deck and religious paintings that transition almost seamlessly into a sequence of clips taken from historical films. Each card represents a different element of Carnivàle’s ambiguous storyline. So, both visually and in terms of its meaning, this is a multi-layered opening sequence.

The show was set, for the most part, during The Great Depression of the 1930s, and it absolutely delights in it. A feast for the eyes, every frame is filled with exquisite period detail: the tin plates used at mealtimes, old-time radios, the long johns-and-dungarees, and the dust. So much dust. Carnivàle’s mood of burgeoning terror is woven into the very fabric of history. The Dust Bowl itself was of such size and destructive power that it was almost like a biblical plague. When one character experiences a vision of an atomic explosion, it is at odds with the historical setting. There would be no atomic bomb for another ten years. When it happened though, it was at the very same location—Alomagordo, New Mexico.

But back to the beginning. We follow the intertwining stories of two men struggling between free will and destiny. It is the age old story of the battle between good and evil;  it is rich with mythology; in particular that of Christian theology, gnosticism, Tarot divination, and Masonic lore, especially that of the Knights Templar.

Ben Hawkins, played by Nick Stahl—who was also starring as John Connor in Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines in the same year—was our sensitive and reluctant anti-hero. His story begins as an Oklahoma farmer and chain-gang fugitive, picked up by the travelling carnival shortly after his mother dies. Ben has the supernatural power of healing. But as he learns through the story, to restore life he also has to take it—a burden that weighs heavily on the young man. He begins to have lucid and disturbing dreams and visions of people unknown to him, and also unbeknownst to him is that he shares these same visions with another man: Brother Justin Crowe.

Brother Justin Crowe is played by the utterly brilliant Clancy Brown, who is well known for his portrayal of the sadistic warden in The Shawshank Redemption, a role he even surpasses here. Justin is a Methodist minister who resides with his sister Iris in the small town of Mintern, California. From the very beginning his internal battle against being led into temptation is clear. His relationship with Iris is somewhat discomforting—their kisses more intimate and familiar than most people would consider appropriate between brother and sister.

“Justin is on a similar journey of self discovery to Ben, but with Justin firmly believing his orders are being delivered by The Lord, when in fact they are coming from a very different Superpower. He is both likeable and frightening, charismatic but also intimidating. Even his most innocent words carry feelings of menace. While his original intentions are good he cannot quite hide the truth from his eyes—he wants to care about his flock, but sometimes the urge to do bad is just overwhelming.”

Ben is the creature of light while Justin the creature of darkness.

So these two men are the key players in the war between Heaven and Hell, but there really is so much more fruit to be plucked from the tree.

The sense of authenticity in the show is complemented by a talented cast who bring a sense of realism to what is a rather fantastical script. Michael J Anderson plays Samson, the ringmaster/boss of the carnival. He is the connection between the day-to-day life of the carnival and the spooky otherness of the show’s mystical elements. We see him handle the complaints of his staff and deal with issues from money to handling local officials. He’s also the main go-between for the mysterious ‘Management’, who appears to be calling the shots.

Samson leads a troupe of weirdos, oddballs and freaks, among them a bearded lady, a strongman, a family running a cootch show and, most splendid of all, Gecko, the “Lizard Man” resplendent in his scaly skin and dreadlocks.

Everyone, unknowingly in most cases, plays their part in helping Ben and Brother Justin  reach their final battle destination. Lodz, a blind Mentalist, with the power to see through the eyes of others.  Full of secrets but he’ll make you work hard to reveal them. Then there is Sofie (Clea DuVall) and her catatonic mother Apollonia (Diane Salinger): Tarot reading fortune tellers who are able communicate telepathically. Sofie would become very important to the story.

But it is the characters without magical powers that often bring the most charm. Jonesy (Tim DeKay), an ex-baseball player who suffers from a crippling knee injury, is Samson’s right hand man and runner of the Ferris Wheel. His relationships with Sofie, and Libby (Carla Gallo) and Rita Sue  (Cynthia Ettinger)—cootch dancing mother and daughter—are some of the more human, heartbreaking, and relatable elements of the show.

Then there is the folklore of the carnival itself. Like many travelling people, sailors, gypsies and so on, the carny folk have their own distinct culture and palette of superstitions. This is as perfectly done as the period detail. It is also superbly blended into the show’s mystical elements.

“So what could have been for Carnivàle? Well the sky really was the limit. With the series ending with a dramatic revelation, and the battle between Good and Evil only really just beginning, it was a travesty that it was cancelled too soon. I have no doubt whatsoever that if it was to air for the first time today we would get the full six series that were originally planned, as TV is such a huge commodity the cash would have kept flowing.”

If you haven’t seen the show yet and like this sort of story I would highly recommend that you do.

“On the heels of the skirmish men foolishly called the War to End All Wars, the Dark One sought to elude his destiny, live as a mortal. So he fled across the ocean, to an empire called America. But by his mere presence, a cancer corrupted the spirit of the land. People were rendered mute by fools who spoke many words but said nothing. For whom oppression and cowardice were virtues, and freedom… an obscenity. And into this dark heartland, the prophet stalked his enemy, til, diminished by his wounds, he turned to the next in the ancient line of Light. And so it was that the fate of mankind came to rest on the trembling shoulders of the most reluctant of saviors.”
– Samson

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It Ain’t Fall Yet – At least Not Here

Though the calendar  says October 11, Fall has not yet officially arrived here in the Tampa, Florida metro-area.

We have not seen a daily temperature below 70 degrees since last May and are rapidly approaching the record of 155 days without an evening low temperature below 70.

We may see the coming of Fall this weekend when cooler temps and lower humidity are predicted.  We shall see.

Until then it is still high summer here in central Florida.

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“The Homeland Welcomes All It’s Sons”

Turkish troops moving toward the Syrian border this morning.

“The homeland welcomes all its sons, and Damascus will solve all Syrian problems in a positive way, away from violence,

The Syrian government “will defend all Syrian territory and will not accept any occupation of any land or iota of the Syrian soil,”

Thus spake Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad (on behalf of Al Assad undoubtedly) in Damascus yesterday in its first response to the abandonment of the Syrian Kurds by their American “allies.’

Trump’s statement has infuriated the Kurds, who are bracing for an imminent Turkish attack. The Kurds stand to lose the autonomy they gained from Damascus during Syria’s civil war, now in its ninth year, and could see Turkey seize much of the territory where the Kurdish population is concentrated.

President Bashar Assad’s government abandoned the predominantly Kurdish area in northern Syria at the height of Syria’s civil war to focus on more key areas where the military was being challenged by the rebels. The U.S. then partnered with the Kurdish fighters to fight the Islamic State group, at the cost of thousands of fighters’ lives.

The danger now could prompt the Kurds to eventually negotiate with Assad’s government for some form of protection.

The Kurdish led Syrian Democratic Forces have pledged to fight back against any Turkish buffer zone assault.  “We will not for a moment hesitate to defend our people” it said in a statement.

Turkey has made it clear it intends to establish a buffer zone between its Kurds and the Syrian Kurdish forces now that America has gotten its troops out of the way.  An area some 20 miles deep and 300miles long adjacent to the border will be taken, held, and depopulated of Kurds who will be replaced by several million Syrian Arab refugees living in Turkey, who will be forcibly expelled into the zone.

In Ankara, Turkish Vice President Fuat Oktay said Turkey was intent on combatting Kurdish fighters across its border in Syria and on “creating a zone where Turkey could resettle Syrian refugees.”

We used to call it ethnic cleansing.

“The Turkish Armed Forces fjust launched #OperationPeaceSpring against PKK/YPG and Daesh terrorists in northern Syria,” Erdogan wrote on Twitter Wednesday afternoon, referring to the Syrian-Kurdish force as well as the Islamic State.

Another Twitter statesman.  Hashtag Operation Peace Spring.

“Our mission is to prevent the creation of a terror corridor across our southern border, and to bring peace to the area,” he said. Turkish media outlets aired footage of warplanes leaving from an air base in Turkey’s southeast and large explosions in Tel Abyad and another Syrian border town.

Of course that is a big lie.  The mission is to ensure that there never exists  an independent or autonomous Kurdistan anywhere lest Turkey’s oppressed Kurds get ideas.  After all, the Kurds are the 4th largest ethnic group in the middle east, the most religiously diverse and the most democratic.

And what of NATO?

The West’s self-imposed Pollyanna game over Turkey a decade or so ago seemed delusional even to most Turks who knew the true nature of the Islamist politician lauded as a pro-reform, pro-West democrat. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, western leaders argued, would consolidate Turkey’s democratic system, bring the country closer to its western allies and even win a historic membership in the European Union. Erdogan’s Turkey would be a perfect bridge between western and Islamic civilizations, thus being a role model for less democratic Muslim nations A decade later, obliviousness has turned into bitter feelings, but Pollyanna is still out there,

Let’s face it; Turkey is a phony ally.

There has always been the problem of like-mindedness. The founding values of NATO, such as the safeguarding of freedom and the principles of liberal democracy, individual liberties and rule of law, are rare commodities in today’s Turkey.

In January 2018, the annual Freedom in the World report, produced by the US NGO Freedom House, classified Turkey as “not free” for the first time since the report series began in 1999. The country had lost its status as “partly free” due to a slide in political and civil rights, Freedom House noted.

Also in January, the World Justice Report, an independent organization seeking to advance the rule of law around the world said that Turkey fell to the 101st position out of 113 countries in its 2017-18 Rule of Law Index.

The future may be gloomier. At a time of rising xenophobia and anti-western sentiments across Turkey, Erdoğan’s campaign for this November’s 2019 presidential elections will undoubtedly target the “evil powers of the West,” adding to the isolationist (that is: anti-NATO) Turkish psyche.

Erdoğan’s militancy will likely strike a responsive chord among his constituents. According to a December 2017 survey by the Turkish pollster Optimar, 71.9 percent of Turks are “against the US” while 22.7 percent are “partly against the US.” This in sharp contrast to the approval by 62.1 percent of Turks of closer relations with Russia.

A survey of 393 Turkish businessmen has likewise found 66 percent of them to have an unfavorable opinion of the US; while a survey by Kadir Has University in Istanbul (in December 2017) took the anti-American sentiment a big step forward by finding that 64.3 percent of respondents viewed the US as the top security threat to Turkey.

Russian President Vladimir Putin could not have possibly found a better partner than Erdoğan for his attempts to divide and weaken NATO.

And now NATO stands treaty bound to defend Turkey against attack, while the Turks launch a military attack against the “terrorist” Syrian Kurds, planning an ethnic cleansing and repopulation of the zone with Syrian Arab refugees

W.hen Turkey’s proponents cite its importance in the war against the Islamic State, they neglect to mention that the Islamic State only thrived because Turkey allowed foreign fighters and equipment to cross its borders.

Indeed, the real danger to NATO is not that Turkey will withdraw or pivot to Russia, but rather that it remains inside. Because NATO decisions are consensual, Turkey can play the proverbial Trojan Horse to filibuster any action when crisis looms.

It is true there is no clear mechanism to expel NATO members – but NATO’s survival nonetheless requires purging Turkey. The West should call Erdogan’s bluff.

What happens it the Syrian air force, defending its territory, takes out a few buildings in Ankara?

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On Abandoning the Kurds

Syrian Kurds putting on a fashion show of traditional clothing.

Ask the average American on the street “Who are the Kurds?” and most likely you will receive a blank stare, a “Who?” and finally an “I have no idea.”  A small number will respond correctly that they are an ethnic group somewhere in the middle-east; others will respond “Aren’t they a terrorist group?”  Or, “Doesn’t that have something to do with yogurt?”

You get the picture.  Few Americans give a rat’s ass about the Kurds – our most important ally in Syria who suffered 11,000 dead in carrying a fierce  fight to ISIS, dislodging  its hold on the territorial “Caliphate.”

So what did we do this week?  We abandoned them to the Turks.  I guess Trump and Erdogan had a phone conversation.

Senator Lindsay Graham, a Trump water carrier, called it a “stain on America’s honor.”

Graham phoned into “Fox & Friends,” which Trump is known to watch regularly, to express his displeasure at the “impulsive decision by the president,” calling it “short-sighted and irresponsible.” He said the move has “undone all the gains we’ve made” and “thrown the region into further chaos.”

“This to me is just unnerving to its core,” Graham said.

The U.S.-backed Kurds under the Syrian Democratic Forces said their American allies “did not fulfill their obligations” as U.S. troops began to withdraw from their positions ahead of the expected Turkish military operation.

A bit of history is in order here.  I love history.  It reveals so much.

The Kurds are an Iranian ethnic group native to Western Asia. Geographically, this mostly mountainous area, known as Kurdistan includes southeastern Turkey, northwestern Iran, northern Iraq, and northern Syria.   There are also exclaves of Kurds in central Anatolia. Additionally, there are significant Kurdish diaspora communities in the cities of western Turkey, in particular Istanbul, while a Kurdish diaspora has developed in Western Europe, primarily in Germany.

The majority of Kurds are Sunni Islam, significant numbers practice Shia Islam while the remainder  are adherents of Yazidism, Zoroastrianism and Christianity.  The Kurds are considered the most religiusly diverse population in Western Asia.

Numerically, the Kurds are estimated to number between 40 and 45 million.  And the Kurds have wanted to rule themselves for centuries.

If 3 million Palestinians deserve a country what about 45 million Kurds?

After World War One and the defeat of the Ottoman Empire, the victorious Western allies made provision for a Kurdish state in the 1920 Treaty of Sevres. However, that promise was nullified three years later, when the Treaty of Lausanne. settling the Greek-Turkish War in Anatolia,  set the boundaries of modern Turkey and made no such provision, leaving Kurds with minority status in their respective countries.  

Kurds form regional majorities in all four of these countries, viz. in Turkish Kurdistan, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iranian Kurdistan and Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds are the fourth largest ethnic group in West Asia after the Arabs, Persians, and Turks.

And out of a position of being a minority spread over four countries came a nationalist movement for independence.   The Turks have argued that the Kurds are not “stateless” but have “thrived” in Turkey for centuries and it is only recently that troubles began with Kurd “terrorists.”

Several large scale Kurdish revolts in 1925, 1930 and 1938 were suppressed by the Turkish government and more than one million Kurds were forcibly relocated between 1925 and 1938. The use of Kurdish language, dress, folklore, and names were banned and the Kurdish-inhabited areas remained under martial law until 1946.  The Ararat revolt, which reached its apex in 1930, was only suppressed after a massive military campaign including destruction of many villages and their populations.

The words “Kurds”, “Kurdistan”, or “Kurdish” were officially banned by the Turkish government.  Following the military coup of 1980, the Kurdish language was officially prohibited in public and private life. Many people who spoke, published, or sang in Kurdish were arrested and imprisoned.  The Kurds are still not allowed to get a primary education in their mother tongue and they don’t have a right to self-determination, even though Turkey has signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. There is continuing and ongoing discrimination against and “otherization” of Kurds in society.

So you can see, the Kurds in Turkey are just thriving and are not “stateless.”  Erdogan lies as well as Trump – its why they get along so well. Since the 1970s, the European Court of Human Rights has condemned Turkey for the thousands of human rights abuses.  The judgments are related to executions of Kurdish civilians, torturing, forced displacements.  systematic destruction of villages, arbitrary arrests. murdered and disappeared Kurdish journalists.

Leyla Zana, the first Kurdish female MP, caused an uproar in Turkish Parliament after adding the following sentence in Kurdish to her parliamentary oath during the swearing-in ceremony in 1994: “I take this oath for the brotherhood of the Turkish and Kurdish peoples.”

In March 1994, the Turkish Parliament voted to lift the immunity of Zana and five other Kurdish members:. Zana, and three others were sentenced to 15 years in jail by the Supreme Court.   In October 1995. Zana was awarded the Sakharov Prize for human rights by the European Parliament.  She was released in 2004 only amid warnings from European institutions that the continued imprisonment of the four Kurdish MPs would affect Turkey’s bid to join the European Union.

In Iraq, there was an autonomous Kurdistan under the Monarchy; Saddam took care of that.  There was oil to be had.

The government of Iran has never employed the same level of brutality against its own Kurds like Turkey or Iraq, but it has always been implacably opposed to any suggestion of Kurdish separatism.

Kurds account for 9% of Syria’s population, a total of around 1.6 million people.  This makes them the largest ethnic minority in the country. They are mostly concentrated in the northeast and the north, but there are also significant Kurdish populations in Aleppo and Damascus.   Of course, in Assad’s Syria no political parties are allowed for any group, Kurdish or otherwise.

Techniques used to suppress the ethnic identity of Kurds in Syria include various bans on the use of the Kurdish language, refusal to register children with Kurdish names, the replacement of Kurdish place names with new names in Arabic, the prohibition of businesses that do not have Arabic names, the prohibition of Kurdish private schools, and the prohibition of books and other materials written in Kurdish.  Some 300,000 Kurds have been denied Syrian citizenship in violation of international law.

Syrian Kurdish women on the battlefield against ISIS

As a result of Syrian civil war, since July 2012, Kurds were able to take control of large parts of Syrian Kurdistan; a Kurdish-dominated coalition led by the Democratic Union Party as well as some other Kurdish, Arab, Syriac-Assyrian and Turkmen groups have sought to establish a new constitution for the de facto autonomous region,

This led to the establishment of the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS) in 2016. The supporters of the DFNS argue that the events constitute a social revolution with a prominent role played by women both on the battlefield and within the newly formed political system, as well as the implementation of democratic con-federalism, a form of libertarian socialism that emphasizes decentralization, gender equality and the need for local governance through semi-direct democracy.

Meanwhile,the Kurdish armed forces mounted fierce attacks against ISIS strongholds and now hold more than 10,000 ISIS prisoners in camps.  The de-facto Syrian Kurdistan has probably been the most peaceful, well run region of the nation.

The mere presence of some 150 U.S. advisors have kept Assad and the Russian military from directly attacking the region and bringing it back into the fold.  But it is the Turks, viewing with alarm the establishment of a Syrian Kurdistan on its border with its own Kurdish population who have revealed their intentions to put a stop to it.

Turkey’s President Erdogan considers the Kurdish forces in Syria to be terrorists allied with Kurdish insurgents within his own country and has long threatened a military incursion into the area.

So this week Erdogan and Trump have a phone conversation; Erdogan asks and Trump agrees tp move about 30 U.S. troops out of a specific region.  By nightfall our soldiers are abandoning observation posts.  The Kurds scream betrayal; everyone knows a Turkish attack is coming.

But of course Trump never gave the Turks the OK to attack the Syrian Kurds.  “I was just moving our soldiers out of harms way.”

Tweeted the President “As I have stated strongly before, and just to reiterate, if Turkey does anything I, in my great and unmatched wisdom, consider to be off limits, I will totally destroy and obliterate the economy of Turkey (I’ve done it before!).”

Yes.  He tweeted that.

He did not mention an attack on the Syrian Kurds as one of the items he would consider off-limits.  Further he expects the Turks to take care of those ISIS prisoners (who will be breaking out in droves once an attack commences.)

So here we face the spectacle of a NATO ally, whom we are under treaty to defend if attacked, attacking our staunchest ally in the war against ISIS.  We opposed Assad.  The Kurds opposed Assad.  We opposed ISIS,  The Kurds opposed ISIS.  We didn’t want to use tens of thousands of troops on the battlefield; The Kurds took up arms and sacrificed more than 11,000 of their young men and women, relying on us to “do the right thing” in supporting their move to independence.

We turned them over with a phone call and a tweet.

Next time maybe we should call the Saudi’s for help; oh wait – they financed ISIS while our Presidents held the hands of Kings and Crown Princes.

Besides the Saudis couldn’t fight their way our of a paper bag – which is the reason they don’t dare face down the Iranians over the oil field missile attacks.

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