With the Trump administration betrayal of the Kurds, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham managed to extract his head out of Il Trumpe’s Great and Unmatched Ass, and has spent the last week telling everyone how awful Trump’s policy is (though he probably shouldn’t have done the whole ‘thoughts and prayers‘ thing…). It would appear, however, Graham was for the betrayal of the Kurds before he was against it (to use a phrase; boldface mine):
So when he [Graham] received a call from a man he thought was Turkey’s minister of defense earlier in August, it didn’t strike him as unusual. “Thank you so much for calling me, Mr. Minister,” Graham said. “I want to make this a win-win, if we can.”
But it wasn’t the Turkish defense minister at all. Instead, it was Alexey Stolyarov and Vladimir Kuznetsov, Russian pranksters with suspected ties to the country’s intelligence services who go by “Lexus and Vovan.”
…The substance of Graham’s conversation with Stolyarov, who was posing as Turkish Defense Minister Hulusi Akar, is newly relevant in light of the South Carolina senator’s push for sanctions on Turkey as punishment for their offensive against the Kurds in northern Syria. Graham labeled the Kurds a “threat” to Turkey in the call, seemingly contradicting what he has said publicly in recent days.
Graham also mentions Trump’s personal interest in a “Turkish bank case” in the call that appears to refer to a U.S. case involving Reza Zarrab, an Iranian-Turkish gold trader and client of Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Trump had asked then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in 2017 to help persuade the Justice Department to drop the Zarrab case….
In the call, Graham was primarily concerned with getting Turkey back into the F-35 program and urging the “defense minister” to refrain from using Russia’s S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system, which was fully delivered to Turkey last month in defiance of requests from the U.S. and NATO.
But Graham also expressed sympathy for Turkey’s “Kurdish problem” and described the Kurds as a “threat.” Those private comments appear to contradict his public statements this week, in which he criticized Trump’s decision to pull U.S. troops out of northern Syria because it’s “wrong to abandon the Kurds, who have been strong allies against” the Islamic State.
“Your YPG Kurdish problem is a big problem,” Graham told the pranksters. He was referring to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units, a group that began fighting ISIS as part of the Syrian Democratic Forces in 2015—with support from the U.S.—but is considered a terrorist group by Turkey because of its push to establish an autonomous state for the Kurds on the Turkish-Syrian border.
“I told President Trump that Obama made a huge mistake in relying on the YPG Kurds,” Graham continued. “Everything I worried about has come true, and now we have to make sure Turkey is protected from this threat in Syria. I’m sympathetic to the YPG problem, and so is the president, quite frankly.”
The banker, Rudy Giuliani’s client, well, he’s a convicted felon:
According to U.S. prosecutors, Zarrab and others used the Turkish bank Halkbank to “launder billions of dollars-worth of Iranian oil proceeds, ultimately creating a slush fund for Iran to use however it wished — the very harm that U.S. sanctions were put in place to avoid.” A senior banker at Halkbank was found guilty of working to evade sanctions on Iran, and Halbank itself could still face fines by the Treasury Department.
We’ve always been told that, when leaders in the Middle East say one thing publicly and another privately, we should listen to what they say privately (stupid, but that’s what the Tom Friedman types say). Well, what do we do with Graham?
Graham is such a shitheel. Don’t think this is the total extent of Graham’s involvement either. And this couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.