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Month: February, 2016

Donald Trump’s Nevada Victory Speech

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It’s Time to Kick Erdogan’s Turkey Out of NATO – Stanley Weiss/HuffPo

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It has always been a matter of historical curiosity that one of the American diplomats who was deeply involved in the creation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was named Achilles. As the head of the State Department’s Office of Western European Affairs after World War II and the eventual U.S. Vice Deputy of the North Atlantic Council, Theodore Achilles played a lead role in drafting the treaty that was designed to deter an expansionist Soviet Union from engaging in an armed attack on Western Europe. With 11 European nations joining the U.S. as founding members in 1949, the alliance quickly grew to include two other countries – Greece and Turkey – by 1952 and today encompasses 28 members.

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Iran isn’t sweating Saudi intervention in Syria – J. Matthew McInnis/American Enterprise Institute

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The Saudi pledge on February 4 to contribute ground troops as part of an “accelerated” campaign in Syria was followed by similar announcements from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, along with hints that Qatar may also contribute symbolically. Small deployments of Gulf Arab forces are unlikely to significantly alter the battlefield in Syria, if they ever materialize. Could they, however, drive the complex proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Syria towards a more direct military confrontation?

The possible new Arab special operations deployments come as Iran’s hand in the conflict grows stronger, and the return on Saudi investment in Syrian opposition groups continues to disappoint. The opposition-held areas of Aleppo appear increasingly vulnerable to being retaken by the joint Syrian-Russian-Iranian assault and the Geneva peace talks are going nowhere. The United States is also pressuring the Gulf States for greater participation in the fight against the Islamic State, while Turkey is willing to deepen its coordination with Saudi Arabia in Syria.

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France, US and the phantom of the two-state solution – Daoud Kuttab/Al Jazeera English

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The violence on the ground has not urged officials to reinitiate the peace talks, so why now?

Heads were turned in the Middle East when the senior White House strategists stated that the Obama administration appeared to be washing its hands of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

How could the United States – the only global party able to apply pressure on Israel – simply abandon its international responsibilities by saying that the two-state solution is unlikely to see the light during the president’s final year in office?

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Killing by Sanctions – Philip Giraldi/The Unz Review

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While Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright, who is currently advising presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, famously said that the estimated 500,000 children who died as a result of U.S. sanctions on Iraq was “worth it.” It was, perhaps, a rare moment of candor from a politician, an admission that Washington is willing to support ostensibly non-lethal measures in such an all-encompassing fashion as to produce mass deaths of people who have no ability to influence the actions undertaken by their government. Sanctions are collective punishment, a blunt edged weapon used all too frequently by Washington to compel foreign governments to submit without having to go to war. There is nothing benign about them and Americans should regard them as potentially just as deadly as direct military intervention.

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“We Need To Out Bernie Sanders as a Jew” — Gilad Atzmon

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The headline above is not an anti Semitic rant delivered by a militant Jew hater. It was yesterday’s headline in the ultra kosher Jewish Forward.

The Forward, once a Jewish socialist magazine, gave a spectacular demonstration of Jewish insularity. The Magazine is troubled by the fact that “Sanders has downplayed his Jewish heritage almost to the point of renunciation.”  In his victory speech in the New Hampshire primary Sanders said, “I am the son of a Polish immigrant.” According to the Forward, Sanders did not identify as “the son of a Jewish immigrant” or, even more simply, as a Jew. I guess that the Forward believes that Sanders can’t just be an assimilated American. They demand that he adhere to his Jewish roots and ‘his’ people. But why? Why are the Jews are so fearful of the American dream? Is not being a socialist in America Jewish enough for the Jews at Forward?

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Anti-Israel posters on London tube network are ‘unauthorised vandalism’ – Rosa Doherty/The Jewish Chronicle

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Transport for London has said a series of anti-Israel posters seen on tube trains across the capital are “unauthorised acts of vandalism”.

The posters appeared in advertising slots on trains at the weekend ahead of the annual “Israel Apartheid Week” campaign which began on Monday.

They showed mocked-up versions of BBC reports and claimed the Corporation’s coverage of Israel and the Palestinians was biased.

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Sheldon Adelson and the missing $100 million – Kenneth P. Vogel, Isaac Arnsdorf/Politico

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The casino mogul, the biggest donor of 2012, is withholding his big checks, puzzling Republicans.

It’s one of the biggest mysteries in Republican circles: why has Sheldon Adelson ― who spent upwards of $100 million during the last presidential campaign ― suddenly stopped pouring huge sums of money into politics?

The conventional wisdom ― that he’s planning to spend millions of dollars to support Marco Rubio, but is waiting to see how he fares in a few more primaries ― does not explain the severity of Adelson’s political spending freeze, which is further-reaching than previously known.

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Israeli-Palestinian Violence Is Not Inevitable – Emily McKee/HuffPo

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Last fall, news of attacks between Palestinians and Israeli Jews flashed suddenly across news headlines and then, by the new year, had almost disappeared. Palestinians wielding knives stabbed civilian Jewish Israelis in Jerusalem. Groups of Israelis marched with signs reading “Death to Arabs” and beat up Palestinians. Israeli soldiers demolished the homes of accused Palestinian assailants.

Such attacks continue, but have almost disappeared from news coverage. In conversations with colleagues, students, and friends, I have found many expressing a sense of disappointment, but not surprise, at such violent events. The Middle East is “a violent region,” or these are “violent peoples,” many reasoned, so it is not surprising that such destruction and killings will break out periodically.

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Israel Is Beginning to Eat Its Own – Amos Harel/Foreign Policy

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An unrelenting wave of Palestinian violence has Israeli leaders at each other’s throats — and it’s going to get even uglier.

After nearly five months of continuous violence, Israel finally seems to have lost its nerve.

Although Israelis have encountered far more serious periods of conflict with Palestinians in the past, the current era of stabbings and vehicle attacks has thrown them off balance. Even in the most horrific times of the Second Intifada, when suicide bombers blew themselves up twice a week on the streets of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, a very Jewish version of the “stiff upper lip” persisted — everyday life continued apace, with businesses and schools remaining open.

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Americans Holding Favorable Views of Israel Decline 16% – Grant F. Smith/AntiWar.com

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Favorable U.S. views of Iran and the Palestinian Authority jump 42%

The percentage of Americans viewing Israel favorably has fallen to 59 percent. By contrast, nearly a quarter of Americans (24 percent) now view the Palestinian Authority favorably. Americans viewing Iran favorably also surged to a recent high of 16% of the adult population.

These are the results of three IRmep polls of the U.S. adult internet population fielded by Google Consumer Surveys February 19-20. The questions posed were, “What is your overall opinion of [country]?” Respondents could also fill in their own response. Most of these, representing up to 12.9% of the total responses, offered no opinion.

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Closer to Inferno: The Danger of Lebanon’s Political Impasse – Ellie Geranmayeh/The National Interest

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With no progress in Yemen, many have come to see Lebanon as the low-hanging fruit with which Tehran and Riyadh could begin rapprochement, based on their prior willingness to cooperate on that part of the region. In December, David Ignatius was hopeful that a deal to fill the vacant Lebanese presidency drew near and that a potential agreement on this issue between Iran and Saudi Arabia could push the Middle East “away from the inferno.” Fast-forward two months: unfortunate developments have seemingly tilted the region even closer to the inferno.

It is unclear how and when the presidential deadlock will be resolved. What seems more obvious is that traditional external guarantors of Lebanon’s local stakeholders are either unable or unwilling to meaningfully shape Lebanese domestic politics. On that basis, and at a time when Riyadh and Tehran are consumed by the crises in Syria, Yemen and Iraq, it seems unlikely that they would now look to Lebanon as an area to take confidence-building measures. This places greater burden on, and to some degree increased flexibility for, rival Lebanese power centers to reduce local tensions and respond to an array of problems plaguing Lebanon.

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Roger Waters: Pink Floyd star on why his fellow musicians are terrified to speak out against Israel – Paul Gallagher/The Independent

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EXCLUSIVE: ‘If they say something they will no longer have a career – I have been accused of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite’

American musicians who support boycotting Israel over the issue of Palestinian rights are terrified to speak out for fear their careers will be destroyed, according to Roger Waters.

The Pink Floyd star – a prominent supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel since its inception 10 years ago – said the experience of seeing himself constantly labelled a Nazi and anti-Semite had scared people into silence.

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Week Nineteen of the Russian Intervention in Syria: would Russia use nukes to defend Khmeimim? – The Vineyard of the Saker

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The past week saw no decrease in the tense confrontation between Turkey and Russia over Syria. While Russia’s position is simple – ‘we are ready to fight’ – the Turkish position is much more ambiguous: Turkish politicians are saying one thing, then the opposite and then something else again. At times they make it sound like an invasion is imminent, and at times they say that “Turkey plans no unilateral invasion”. Since a UN authorized invasion of Syria will never happen, this means some kind of “coalition of the willing”, possibly NATO. The problem here is that the Europeans have no desire to end up in a war against Russia. At the same time, the US and France refuse to allow a UN Resolution which would reaffirm the sovereignty of Syria. Yup, that’s right. The US and France apparently think that the UN Charter (which affirms the sovereignty of all countries) does not apply to Syria. Go figure…

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Israel Kills Girls

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Oh yes they most certainly do!  YouTube be my witness, Israel kills Palestinian girls.  In broad daylight, on film, and in cold blood.

Street executions of Palestinian teen girls are on the rise.  Some of these executed girls had nothing to do with the Knife Intifada.  Often, knives are planted posthumously beside tiny corpses; or else they’re planted on innocent Palestinian girls who then get carted off to jail for an alleged failed stabbing.  And the ones who were out on a mission to stab Israeli soldiers, (a mindblowingly brave endeavor!), well, no doubt a nifty Krav Maga maneuver by a trained Israeli soldier could easily disarm a thin-wristed waif wielding a kitchen knife.  No?  Surely a copiously trained soldier would be able to expertly kick a paltry knife out of a small girl’s hand, no?  Evidently not.  We note, therefore, the excessive new level of fatal force used against Palestinian  girls.

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Moscow to the Arabs: Iran Is Our Top Ally – Raghida Dergham/HuffPo

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The Arab-Russian Forum will convene at the ministerial level in Moscow next week, in the midst of the battle for Syria amid growing Russian-Turkish tensions and increasing talk of Saudi and Gulf ground intervention in Syria. The Russian foreign minister will be very clear in drawing the strategic frameworks for Russian policies in the Middle East, and will insist on an agenda that Arab ministers are unlikely to find compatible with Arab priorities. Sergei Lavrov will not soften his rhetoric just because he will be playing host, because the broad features of Russia’s Middle Eastern policy, as drafted by President Putin, are not subject to negotiations from Moscow’s viewpoint. If the Arab ministers still believe it will be possible to induce a radical change in Russian policy, then they will hit a solid wall and perhaps even condemnation because this will be seen as tampering with Russian national interests.

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AlJazeera Camera Catches IDF Executing Palestinian Youth

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Aleppo’s citizens: We don’t need help from Turkey, we support Syrian army

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Hillary Clinton and the Dogs of War – Nicolas J S Davies/Consortiumnews

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Former Secretary of State Clinton grudgingly admits her Iraq War vote was a “mistake,” but it was not a one-off misjudgment. Clinton has consistently stood for a war-like U.S. foreign policy that ignores international law and relies on brinkmanship and military force, writes Nicolas J S Davies.

A poll taken in Iowa before the presidential caucus found that 70 percent of Democrats surveyed trusted Hillary Clinton on foreign policy more than Bernie Sanders. But her record as Secretary of State was very different from that of her successor, John Kerry, who has overseen groundbreaking diplomatic breakthroughs with Iran, Cuba and, in a more limited context, even with Russia and Syria.

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Senators miss the mark on Israel settlement labeling – Nur Arafeh, Joanna Springer/TheHill

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In a move that caused a stir among U.S. lawmakers and some lobby groups, the US Customs and Border Protection agency recently issued a reminder that goods produced in Israeli settlements in the West Bank or Gaza Strip should not be labeled “Made in Israel.” In rapid retaliation, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) proposed a bill to reverse the 20-year-established labeling regulation, calling it “nonsensical” and “invidious.”

Cotton appears to be taking his cue from Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) who proposed a bill objecting to the guidelines the European Union issued in November 2015 regarding labeling requirements on settlement-made products.

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‘Academic Boycott’ Is an Oxymoron – Monica Osborne/The Chronicle of Higher Education

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Literary and philosophical studies have long been the symbolic refuge for the broken, the oppressed, the silenced. But the most powerful literature blurs distinctions between the dichotomous categories of right and wrong. It fleshes out those nuances and teaches us to wrestle and struggle with texts, flexing a very specific intellectual muscle so that we might carry a deep understanding of ambiguity out of our small towers and into the largeness of real life.

The world’s conflicts and controversies, I have learned, are much grayer than I imagined. The sides of every issue are legion — turning and turning reveals the impossibility of understanding another’s reality that is not my own. But as scholars and human beings, we try. And in the process we also try to take the moral high ground, to position ourselves on the right side of history, as champions of the bullied and the disenfranchised.

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Why the rest of the world should get a vote in the greatest reality TV show on Earth: the US election – Laurie Penny/NewStatesman

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We’re only halfway through, and I’m already sick of the US presidential race. As reality television goes, it’s a hackneyed format. The narrative is childish and simplistic. And if I want to watch a bunch of interchangeable thuggish white men and the occasional token minority making terrifying pronouncements to a pounding rock soundtrack, I’ll stick on a Tarantino film.

American commentators often point out that the whole two-year, multibillion-dollar pageant is a great way to distract the entire US electorate from the real-life daily process of democracy. Imagine how the rest of us feel. We’re not even allowed to vote and help decide which candidate gets to go home with all those fabulous prizes, which include a free plane and the largest military arsenal the world has ever known. What can I say? It’s America. They have high expectations. In Britain, whoever Rupert Murdoch picks is usually just excited to meet the Queen.

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Lamar Outdoor Advertising Under Fire for Anti-Israel Billboard – Paul Miller/Observer.com

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Company has history of running campaigns against the Jewish State

UPDATE (February 19, 2016, 5:06 pm)In a message posted on its Facebook page, Lamar Advertising has made the decision to remove the billboard advertisement. This decision was made public hours after the Observer published this story by the Haym Salomon Center’s Paul Miller. The Baton Rouge based company said, “We have tried to contact SEAMAC to discuss these issues but have not received a reply to our telephone and email messages. Therefore we have decided to remove the SEAMAC copy as soon as possible.”

Approximately five miles south of Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport, alongside the Interstate 294, stands a large anti-Israel billboard.

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Jerusalem’s ancient Damascus Gate is at the heart of a modern wave of violence – William Booth, Ruth Eglash/The Washington Post

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Damascus Gate circa 1900

For centuries, the Damascus Gate has stood as the portal to the Old City of Jerusalem, opening onto a packed bazaar of souvenir shops, teahouses and falafel joints — and the holiest places for Jews, Christians and Muslims.

On Tuesday, a watchful Israeli sniper was perched in one of the gate’s stone turrets, swiveling his scoped rifle, as Israeli border police milled about the entrance, warily eyeing the passersby, a mix of Palestinian hipsters in the latest jeans, doing some shopping for their moms, and elderly Jewish rabbis with long gray side curls who were escorted through the gate by private security guards in flak jackets.

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The UK Government, BDS and the Jews — Gilad Atzmon

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The British government has issued new directives aimed at preventing public entities, universities and student unions from boycotting Israeli products. The new rules authorize the British government to take legal action against organizations that impose such boycotts.

Even as a supporter of every form of resistance to Israel and Zionism and a supporter of the BDS principle, I am thrilled by these new draconian measures, as I am always delighted when Jewish power manifests its true face. There is a problem though. BDS has never taken on Jewish power. BDS is in itself a manifestation of Jewish power.

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Russian intelligence report on Turkey’s current assistance to Daesh – Report/Volairenet.org

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Recruitment of foreign terrorist fighters, facilitation of their cross-border movement into Syria and the supply of weapons to the terrorist groups active there

Reportedly, representatives of ISIL — with help from the Turkish intelligence services — have established an extensive network in Antalya for the recruitment of individuals who have arrived in Turkey from the post-Soviet States, to enable their participation in the Syrian conflict and possible transfer to Russia.

The group of recruiters consists of a Kyrgyzstan national named Abdullah; a native of Adygea named Azmet; a native of Tatarstan named Elnar; a Russian Federation national named Ilyas; an Azerbaijan national named Adil Aliev; and a native of Karachay-Cherkessia named Nizam. They are led by a Russian Federation national, Ruslan Rastyamovich Khaibullov (also known as Baris Abdul or by the pseudonym “The Teacher”), born on 1 April 1978 in Tatarstan. He lives with his family in Antalya. He has a Turkish permanent residence permit.

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he Next Generation of Leaders in the Gulf – Becca Wasser, Jeff Martini/RAND

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After years of leadership by octogenarians, the Gulf Arab states are getting younger rulers. On February 10, the ruler of Dubai announced a new Emirati cabinet that includes eight new ministers with an average age of 38. The youngest appointee, appropriately heading the Ministry of Youth Affairs, is just 22. A few weeks earlier, the 35-year-old emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, named a fellow member of Generation Y to lead the nation’s foreign ministry—Mohammed bin Abdulrahman al-Thani, who is also just 35. The face of Gulf leadership is changing, and it is getting decidedly younger.

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Saudi Arabia Should Be Disturbed, Not Reassured, Since It Poses a Worse Threat to the Middle East Than Iran – Doug Bandow/HuffPo

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Last Month Secretary of State John Kerry traveled to Riyadh to reassure the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states that the U.S. stood with them. “Nothing has changed” as a result of the nuclear pact with Iran, he insisted.

Washington’s long relationship with Riyadh was built on oil. There never was any nonsense about sharing values with the KSA, which operates as a slightly more civilized variant of the Islamic State. For instance, heads are chopped off, but only after a nominal trial. Women have no more rights, but can afford a better life.

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In Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, There Is No Status Quo – Alan Elsner/HuffPo

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Israeli opponents and skeptics of a two-state peace solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, often argue that the risks right now are too high and that maintaining the status quo is the safer option.

This is dangerously misleading because there is no status quo in the Middle East. Instead, there is a policy void that is certain to be filled by extremists and terrorists. Instead of abdicating responsibility in this way, we desperately need leaders willing to state the truth: failure to realize the vision of two states is the single greatest threat to the survival of Israel. It stands to imperil both Israel’s physical security and its future as the democratic home of the Jewish people.

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The media are misleading the public on Syria – Stephen Kinzer/The Boston Globe

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Coverage of the Syrian war will be remembered as one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the American press. Reporting about carnage in the ancient city of Aleppo is the latest reason why.

For three years, violent militants have run Aleppo. Their rule began with a wave of repression. They posted notices warning residents: “Don’t send your children to school. If you do, we will get the backpack and you will get the coffin.” Then they destroyed factories, hoping that unemployed workers would have no recourse other than to become fighters. They trucked looted machinery to Turkey and sold it.

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