Protests in Iran and Erdogan’s War Against the Kurds in Syria

An Israel News Talk Radio Discussion
by Jerry Gordon and Rod Bryant (February 2018)

Protests in Iran, Tehran University, January 2018


Separately, the conundrum of how to support the Kurds in Syria arose threatened by invasion from Turkish armed forces targeting the enclave in Afrin. Turkish president Erdogan was incensed at the announcements from US Secretaries of State Tillerson and Defense Mattis about establishment of a 30,000 person Border Security Force (BSF) drawn from the US coalition-supported Kurdish YPG–led Syrian Democratic Force (SDF). The US coalition backed YPG-led SDF had won major battles in Kobani, Manbij and retook the Deir es Zour oil fields in eastern Syria.


Erdogan considers the YPG and its political party, the PYD, as nothing more than extension of the Turkish Kurdish Workers Party (PKK) they have designated a ‘terrorist” group. In his view the US proposed YPG Kurdish led BSF is a terrorist army threatening Turkey. In 2013 he had concluded a cease fire with the jailed leader of the PKK, Abdullah Ocalan, which he unilaterally broke in mid-2015 reigniting a virtual civil war in the largely Kurdish southeastern region of the country abutting Syria. After the July 2016 staged coup Erdogan had undertaken a limited incursion into Syria with Islamist allies from the Free Syria Army. On the weekend of January 20-21, 2018 Turkish forces invaded Afrin with FSA allies. The invasion of predominately Kurdish enclave of Afrin in Syria was preceded by artillery shelling and aerial bombing. The objective appears to be creation of another safe zone in Syria equivalent to the one from the 2016 episode. That triggered conversations between US and Russian Military chiefs and calls for an emergency session of the UN Security Council. This action comes less than 10 days before a Russia-sponsored Syrian peace conference in Sochi previously scheduled for January 29-30th. Syrian Kurds had been extended an invitation to participate over the objections of Turkey, Iran and Syria’s Assad. Given the events unfolding in Afrin the session could possibly be cancelled.


Beyond the Matrix host Rod Bryant to discuss these developments and related issues concerning recent Trump Administration policy changes with regard to Israel, its capital of Jerusalem and curtailment of funding for the Palestinian Authority and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s state visit to India.



Gordon: Their unemployment rate is three times, nearly thirty percent versus the roughly national average of 12.8% for Iran’s labor force. On top of that they have hyperinflation.


Bryant: Right.



Gordon: Ahmadinejad wanted to foster another construction boom and that blew up resulting in the Khamenei regime having to begin a partial bailout. The worst part about it is those hundreds of billions of dollars of sequestered oil revenues released under the lifting of nuclear sanctions, went to fund two things, adventures overseas in places like Lebanon Syria, Yemen, and the Persian Gulf . Billions of funds were diverted to what are called religious foundation. The Revolutionary Guard who own a number of businesses, some of which are sanctioned because of the missile development violations. So not much of these released funds trickled down to the average Iranian. You could call this the failure of Islamic trickle down economic theory.


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: It just did not work and so the average Iranian just blew their stack in grievous complaints. That was one aspect of it. The other aspect of it was the use of a certain messaging service called Telegram that is encrypted. Telegram was used as the tissue connection between these average persons across the country. They could send messages saying “death to the dictator” meaning Ayatollah Khamenei, they said “get out of Lebanon, get out of Syria, and get out of Yemen.”


Bryant: This is Telegram an app for their phone or Tablet?


Bryant: Okay.


Gordon: You and I happen to use another app called WhatsApp.


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: Telegram was developed by a Russian and he left Russia because he wanted this to be used throughout the world by people like the ordinary Iranians. What is interesting is the comparison with 2009. In 2009 there were less than one million smart phones in Iran, a county of 70 plus million.


Bryant: Wow.


Gordon: Guess how many there are now?


Bryant: I have no idea.


Gordon: Forty-eight to fifty million.


Bryant: So the whole point is everybody in Iran has a smart phone nowadays?


Gordon: Right.


Bryant: This changes the dynamic of a grassroots protest.


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: But they are not doing that.


Bryant: That means that all the profits go to the Iranian government and different from say Saudi Arabia in which just about every Saudi citizen gets some type of reparations or remunerations.


Gordon: They get a subsidy.


Bryant: Subsidy, right from the government because of the sale of the oil. This means that most Saudis, I don’t even know if they work honestly. Because the only people you see working are Filipinos and foreigners from different parts of the world in Saudi Arabia.


Gordon: Yes, the average young Saudi male of working age may well be from a certain class called ”Sitting-around boys.”


Bryant: Yes.



Gordon: Yes.


Bryant: So that coupled with the fact that the economy is not doing very well, means that the people are still struggling and they realize that Iran is spending millions or hundreds of millions of dollars to support terrorism. This protest is different because they want this stuff to stop.


Bryant: Now these protests are not part of a specific political organization are they?


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: If you take items I just enumerated that others have sort of locked onto you can see that there is something missing. That could be developed if there was a concerted effort on the part of other governments like ours. Realize that half of the population of Iran is not Persian, They are Arabs or Baloch or Lurs or Azeris or Kurds, don’t forget the Kurds.





Bryant: Right.


Bryant: What has been a big benefit for change in the world in the last say seventy-five years have been especially the socialist countries. Russia and China realizing that communism has not worked and that free market economic system at some level with a capitalist base is about the only way to really prosper. I think what they realized you can only stuff your pocket if wealth is coming from a productive economy.



Bryant: No.


Gordon: They have a command economy just like the Soviets did.


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: That is the issue, why they are failing and their people protesting.



Bryant: Now these agreements are major economic agreements I mean these are huge.


Gordon: There are a number of defense agreements. For example they are going to be revisiting the shipping of so-called Spike missiles that Israel uses against Syria for example. There are also cultural agreements as well. These happen to deal with what Israel has been good at doing, building a start up economy.


Bryant: What do you think explains the love affair of Netanyahu and India?


Bryant: This goes back to what we were talking about earlier that the economy is going to drive change. I really do believe that. I mean back in the day before information technology change usually was brought about by major warfare, invasion and taking people’s possessions and money, etc. Nowadays I think people realize, hold on a second, the average guy if you could empower him to make his own way and enable him to have the ability to make money, society as a whole is lifted up to a higher level.


Gordon: Yes, that has been the model that the West has created and then subsequently it took at least a hundred and fifty years to have that eventuate in the rest of the world. I mean the Indian economy was socialist underneath the Nehru family government. They were pro-Palestinian. They had basically a socialist economy and it was going nowhere.


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: It was really the entrepreneurial revolution that occurred with the advent of technology that basically was the spark plug. That is why they so appreciate what Israel have accomplished with a fraction of their population. 8.5 million versus India’s 1.3 billion.


Bryant: I think that we are going to slowly see this shift also toward Africa. Because we see a lot of interests being promoted between African states and Israel. There has got to be a change and I think that they are beginning to see that.


Bryant: I think we need a Kurdish update. This whole thing between the Kurds, Erdogan and what is actually going to happen? Are we going to see a state of Kurdistan come up in the future and that is going to be an interesting subject to chat about?


Gordon: Yes. we are at a tipping point in Syria because the Kurds have demonstrated their ability working with the U.S. coalition to occupy a fairly significant portion of what was the obvious failed state of Syria at this juncture. There is a war going on between Erdogan on the one hand and the Russians on the other in terms of whether or not the Kurds in Syria in contrast to what happened in Iraq can really eventuate into some form of a Kurdish autonomous region in Syria proper.


Gordon: Exactly right.



Bryant: I think Russia also wants them involved in those talks correct?


Bryant: Right.


Gordon: There could be the auspices for achieving that. On the other hand the question is that going to be permitted and become a reality? The only stake the U.S. has announced is creating a so-called Border Security Force for the Kurds which will probably take years. They are projecting a force of about thirty thousand. The force could be drawn from the mixed Kurdish, Syrian, Armenian and Assyrian Christian and Arab force that liberated Raqqa and Deir es Zour. However, the bad actor in all of this is Erdogan. Erdogan has become the other hegemon in the Middle East besides Shia supremacist Iran. He has bases in Qatar and Somalia. In late December, he received the gift of a Red Sea island, Suakin, to build a naval base courtesy of Sudan’s President Bashir, a Muslim Brother ally. That has enraged President el-Sisi in Egypt. He transferred troops with the assistance of the UAE to, of all places, Eritrea. They closed the borders between Sudan, Eritrea and Ethiopia over the course of a week. Now that support had been temporized. Erdogan, who is Muslim Brotherhood, supported Hamas. He has given safe haven to Muslim Brothers from Egypt and also Hamas. He is also allied with Sudan’s Bashir to foster the overthrow of adjacent governments in Libya as well as in Chad.


Bryant: Now what is his connection you think with Qatar?



Gordon: Yes, President Trump said, in effect congratulations on doing great counter-terrorism work. That was the same sort of communications language he used enabling lifting of Sudan sanctions for President Bashir, another member of the Muslim Brotherhood.


Bryant: Do you think this is some kind of ploy to develop a relationship? I mean we also have to remember that is it possible that the Muslim Brotherhood that is in Qatar and in other places are supporting terrorist operations? Is it possible that neighboring Sunni emirates and Saudi Arabia don’t know about that?


Bryant: Okay.


Bryant: There had been a high level of regional operations in Qatar for years.


Gordon: Yes, there had been with the Al Udeid military base.


Gordon: It is being utilized only to the extent that it would engage in doing tactical and resupply work but not most of the air missions in Syria and Iraq. The US led coalition has been carrying out. I think out of the UAE.



Bryant: Right. In reality all of the threats that Abbas has handed Israel in the past few months with the Embassy in Jerusalem, cutting funding for Hamas, nothing has really changed. This is the same kind of rhetoric we have seen for sixty years. They are going to deny it. Is it going to hurt our feelings now? They have been doing that anyway.


Bryant: Right, of course.


Gordon: You saw what happened with the US UNWRA first quarter donation of a $125 million, they cut it back to $65 million. Already a lot of people on the ground in these thirty-two refugee camps across those areas are concerned about where their next flour bag is coming from. On top of the fact that they are being educated in anti-Israel and anti-Semitic hate. Then the next thing that has to happen is when Vice President Pence comes to Jerusalem.


Bryant: Yes.


Gordon: He may be bringing something with him assuming that it is finally passed by the US Senate and signed into law, the Taylor Force Act.


Bryant: Now tell everybody who Taylor Force was.


Gordon: Taylor Force was a U.S. Army Military Academy graduate, who served as an officer in Iraq and Afghanistan. In March of 2016 he was knifed to death by a Palestinian terrorist at a seaside restaurant in Jaffa in Israel. He was there as a graduate student from the Vanderbilt University School of Management. He was checking out how the Israeli ‘start up economy’ works. He ends up a US victim of Palestinian terror. That was when the US realized that the PLO for years has been taking foreign donation monies from the U.S. and others and essentially . . .


Bryant: Paying the terrorists.


Gordon: Yes, the PLO was paying imprisoned Palestinian terrorists and their families over $350 million dollars in what has been called “pay for slay” stipends.


Gordon: Thanks for having me back. Shalom y’all.


Listen to the Israel News Talk Radio—Beyond the Matrix Sound Cloud—The Real Scoop behind the Iran Protests

Jerome B Gordon is a Senior Vice President of the New English Review and author of The West Speaks and Genocide in Sudan: Caliphate Threat to Africa and the World. Mr. Gordon is a former US Army intelligence officer who served during the Viet Nam era. He was the co-host and co-producer of weekly The Lisa Benson Show for National Security that aired out of KKNT960 in Phoenix, Arizona from 2013 to 2016. He is co-host and co-producer of the Middle East Round Table periodic series on 1330amWEBY, Northwest Florida Talk Radio, Pensacola, Florida.


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