In Turkey, They Mace Fine Looking Women In Red Dresses

Horrifying image of ‘woman in red’ being doused with pepper spray becomes symbol of Turkish protests

daily mail

  • Photograph of woman turning from the pepper spray has become defining image of Turkey’s days of violent protest
  • Women feel threatened by official promotion of the Islamic headscarf and concerns about women’s rights
  • Many have joined in the street fighting raging in Turkey since Friday
  • British student Melisa Kenber said she was sprayed in the face for filming police during protests
  • Deputy Prime Minister apologised for police brutality as Ankara appeared to soften its stance against protestors
  • Bulent Arinc due to meet protest organisers today in bid diffuse tensions after days of heated demonstrations
  • Large trade union due to stage walkout today as protest movement gathers support
  • Turkish police arrest 25 people for ‘spreading untrue information’ on Twitter and provoking protest

By Daily Mail Reporter and Becky Evans

In her red cotton summer dress and necklace, white bag slung over her shoulder, she might have been floating across the lawn at a garden party.

But behind her crouches a masked policeman firing noxious tear gas spray that sends her curly hair billowing upwards.

Endlessly shared on social media and recreated as artwork on posters and stickers, the image of the woman in red has become the leitmotif for female protesters during days of violent anti-government riots in Istanbul.

Scroll down for video

Iconic: The woman in red is sprayed with tear gas

Iconic: The woman in red turns as the policeman showers her in pepper spray at close range

This is what democracy looks like: This combination of photos shows how the unknown woman first faces off with the massed ranks of riot police before one steps forward to spray the gas right into her face

This is what democracy looks like: This combination of photos shows how the unknown woman first faces off with the massed ranks of riot police before one steps forward to spray the gas right into her face

Standing up for her rights: The brave woman is forces to retreat coughing and spluttering as the gas-wielding riot policeman goes on to spray the crowds of demonstrators behind her, leaving them in agony

Standing up for her rights: The brave woman is forced to retreat coughing and spluttering as the gas-wielding riot policeman goes on to spray the crowds of demonstrators behind her, leaving them in agony

It has thrust Turkish academic Ceyda Sungar into the limelight but she says her experience is typical of people in her country who fight for their rights.

Ms Sungar, an academic in city planning at Istanbul Technical University, told Turkish newspaper Radikal: ‘Every citizen defending their urban rights, every worker defending their human rights, and every student defending university rights has witnessed the police violence I experience.’

The academic, who part of the Taksim Solidarity Platform protesting against the redevelopment of the park, has since declined further interviews as she is believed to be uncomfortable with her position as the focal point of the movement.

But it has become a galvanising force for feloow protestors.

‘That photo encapsulates the essence of this protest,’ says maths student Esra at Besiktas, near the Bosphorus strait – one of the many centres of this week’s protests.

‘The violence of the police against peaceful protesters, people just trying to protect themselves and what they value.’

In one artist’s rendering which has been plastered on walls in Istanbul and elsewhere the woman appears much bigger than the policeman.

‘The more you spray the bigger we get’, reads the slogan next to it.

Tear gas: Policemen, protected by gas masks,

Tear gas: Policemen, protected by gas masks, walk through a dense cloud of the noxious substance as they charge protestors

Under fire: Police shoots tear gas at demonstrators near Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office

Under fire: Police shoots tear gas at demonstrators near Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office

Conflict: A protestor tries to prevent his friend from reaching a police water cannon during the clashes

Conflict: A protestor tries to prevent his friend from reaching a police water cannon during the clashes

Angry scenes: Turkish riot police detain a protester during a rally

Angry scenes: Turkish riot police detain a protester during a rally. More than 2,300 people have been injured and one person killed during four days of fierce clashes

Tensions: Hundreds of protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbu

Tensions: Hundreds of protestors clash with Turkish riot policemen on the way to Taksim Square in Istanbul

Dangerous: A demonstrator goes to throw a bottle as fireworks go off behind him

Dangerous: A demonstrator goes to throw a bottle as fireworks go off behind him and illuminate he street where other protestors have gathered

Divided: A masked man tries to avoid a missile, left, while another protestor is led away by riot police
Divided: A masked man tries to avoid a missile, left, while another protestor is led away by riot police

Divided: A masked man tries to avoid a missile, left, while another protestor is led away by riot police

 

The U.S. and the European Union as well as human rights groups have expressed concern about the heavy-handed action of Turkish police against protesters.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan branded the protesters on Monday extremists ‘living arm in arm with terrorism’, a description that seems to sit ill with the image of the woman in red.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc has apologised for police violence and was due to meet organisers of the demonstration against plans to build a replica Ottoman-era barracks on Istanbul’s Gezi Park in Taksim Square.

British student Melisa Kenber said she was sprayed with tear gas as she tried to film the demonstrations

British student Melisa Kenber said she was sprayed with tear gas as she tried to film the demonstrations

But he refuses to talk to unnamed groups he accuses of exploiting anger over police action against the original protest to foment broader violence.

He is in control of the government after Prime Minister Erdogan flew off to a state visit to north Africa on Monday.

Erdogan did not comment on domestic matters at a news conference in Algiers on Tuesday.

Arinc apologised for ‘excessive violence’ by police against the initial Taksim demonstration, which contrasted sharply with Erdogan’s dismissal of the protesters as ‘looters’ and comments linking some to ‘terrorism’.

President Abdullah Gul has also made markedly more restrained comments on the protests.

Pro-government newspapers signalled a softening of Ankara’s line today and the Sabeh newspaper’s front-page read ‘Olive Branch’.

Today thousands of people remained at a makeshift camp at Taksim, which has become a focal point of the demonstrations.

Small tents have appeared, food and face masks are on sale and a library is being created.

British student Melisa Kenber, 19, said she was chased by police wielding tear gas canisters after she filmed the protests.

The Leeds University student from Ripon, North Yorkshire, was visiting family in Istanbul when she became caught up in the protests.

As she started to video the police they yelled, ‘No pictures, no pictures,’ and ran after her until she reached her car, her eyes streaming from the gas.

Miss Kenber said: ‘I go to Istanbul every year but this time I went, before it all kicked off, I had never hear people so frustrated and angry and complain about the government.

‘It was like a bomb waiting to go off. The final straw was at Taksim Square.

‘There were thousands of people there, listening to bands and talking, it was a really nice atmosphere.

‘But just before dawn police arrived with canisters of gas and water bombs.’

Police have arrested 25 people for ‘spreading untrue information’ on social media and provoking protests.

Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu Agency said today the people were detained in the city of Izmir for allegedly ‘inciting the people to enmity and hate.’ It said police were still looking for 13 others.

The day after: Women pass damaged windows in Kizilay Square

The day after: Women pass damaged windows in Kizilay Square in Ankara, Turkey, the morning after mass protests in the city

Damage: Windows were smashed during the violent clashes between police and anti-government protestors
Damage: Windows were smashed during the violent clashes between police and anti-government protestors

Damage: Windows were smashed during the violent clashes between police and anti-government protestors

Tens of thousands of Turks have joined anti-government protests expressing discontent with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s 10-year rule.

Turkey’s main broadcast media have been criticized for shunning the coverage of police brutality at the protest onset on Friday. Many people turned to social media to keep up to date with the developments.

Erdogan, who has dismissed the protests as demonstrations organized by an extremist fringe, has referred to the social media as “‘he worst menace to society.’

Clashes spread overnight to the eastern province of Tunceli, where police fired tear gas and water cannon at hundreds of protesters who set up barricades and threw stones at them, witnesses said.

Police intervened in a similar way against demonstrators in the capital, Ankara, as well in Hatay province on the Syrian border where a 22-year-old man died after being hit in the head at a rally late on Monday.

The DISK union confederation, including unions in the metalworking, health and energy sectors, was due to stage a walkout on Wednesday, joining another labour confederation in a protest against the government.

Last night, some protestors dressed in more combative gear and sporting face masks as they threw stones, but the large number of very young women in Besiktas and on Taksim Square where the protests began on Friday evening is notable.

Unafraid: A protestor takes a rest during ongoing demonstrations

Unafraid: A protestor takes a rest during ongoing demonstrations against the government and alleged police brutality

Take cover: A protester ducks down as fireworks

Take cover: A protester ducks down as fireworks explode during continuing anti-government demonstrations that have overwhelmed Turkey

Whose streets? Protesters wear scarves over their faces as demonstrations against the government, police brutality and the destruction of a city park for a development project continue in Istanbul

Whose streets? Protesters wear scarves over their faces as demonstrations against the government, police brutality and the destruction of a city park for a development project continue in Istanbul

Carnival atmosphere: The glow of red flares illuminates the scene as protesters stand outside in Istanbul tonight. The brutal response of police has raised concerns from the U.S., the EU and human rights groups

Carnival atmosphere: The glow of red flares illuminates the scene as protesters stand outside in Istanbul tonight. The brutal response of police has raised concerns from the U.S., the EU and human rights groups

Fervent secularism: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Monday branded the protesters, who have fought street battles with since Friday, extremists 'living arm in arm with terrorism'

Fervent secularism: Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan on Monday branded the protesters, who have fought street battles with since Friday, extremists ‘living arm in arm with terrorism’

On the march: The streets near Taksim Square in Istanbul

On the march: The streets near Taksim Square in Istanbul are filled with tear gas as riot police, dressed in helmets and carrying shield, run towards protesters

Running for safety: Protestors flee from police as they are sprayed with water cannon

Running for safety: Protestors flee from police as they are sprayed with water cannon during the demonstrations

With swimming goggles and flimsy surgical masks against the teargas, light tasselled scarves hanging around their necks, Esra, Hasine and Secil stand apprehensively in the Besiktas district on Monday evening.

They are joined by ever growing numbers of youngsters as dusk falls and the mood grows more sombre.

They belong, as perhaps does the woman in red, to the ranks of young, articulate women who believe they have something to lose in Erdogan’s Turkey.

They feel threatened by his promotion of the Islamic headscarf, symbol of female piety.

Many of the women point to new abortion laws as a sign that Erdogan, who has advised Turkish women to each have three children, wants to roll back women’s rights and push them into traditional, pious roles.

‘I respect women who wear the headscarf, that is their right, but I also want my rights to be protected,’ says Esra. ‘I’m not a leftist or an anti-capitalist. I want to be a business woman and live in a free Turkey.’

Barricade: Men wearing masks and the Turkish flag sift through bricks

Barricade: Men wearing masks and the Turkish flag sift through bricks and rubble as they set a barricage against police

Confrontation: One man crouches in front of hastily set up barricade

Confrontation: One man crouches in front of hastily set up barricade and hundreds of masked protestors look on

Coming to a street near you soon: Riot police use water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters in Istanbul. UK police have procured several such weapons to deal with expected protests in London

Coming to a street near you soon: Riot police use water cannons to disperse anti-government protesters in Istanbul. UK police have procured several such weapons to deal with expected protests in London

Street fighting: Crowds of protesters equipped with builders' hard hats and other protective gear battle police

Street fighting: Crowds of protesters equipped with builders’ hard hats and other protective gear battle police

Civil disorder: Tear gas and water fill the air as police attempt to clear protesters on a fifth day of rioting

Civil disorder: Tear gas and water fill the air as police attempt to clear protesters on a fifth day of rioting

Retreat and regroup: Demonstrators flee the high-pressure spray of a water cannon in an Istanbul street

Retreat and regroup: Demonstrators flee the high-pressure spray of a water cannon in an Istanbul street

A taste of their own medicine: A man hurls a tear gas canister back at police lines during protests in Istanbul

A taste of their own medicine: A man hurls a tear gas canister back at police lines during protests in Istanbul

Daring: A brave protester walks towards police lines during a stand-off between demonstrators and police

Daring: A brave protester walks towards police lines during a stand-off between demonstrators and police

Erdogan, who has won three successive elections and has a huge parliamentary majority, has been accused of taking an authoritarian turn after initial economic advances and early democratic reform.

Leader: Erdogan, a pious man who denies Islamist ambitions for Turkey, rejects any suggestion he wants to cajole anyone into religious observance

Leader: Erdogan, a pious man who denies Islamist ambitions for Turkey, rejects any suggestion he wants to cajole anyone into religious observance

Critics accuse him of pursuing an ‘Islamist’ agenda by easing restrictions on the wearing of headscarves in state institutions, limiting alcohol sales and promoting broader religious projects.

Erdogan denies any ambition to undermine Turkey’s secular constitution.

Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder of the secular republic formed in 1923 on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire, encouraged women to wear Western clothes rather than headscarves and promoted the image of the professional woman.

Ironically, Erdogan is seen these days as, for better or worse, the most dominant Turkish leader since Ataturk.

After first sweeping to power in in 2002, he remains unrivalled in popularity, drawing on strong support in the conservative Anatolian heartland.

The weekend demonstrations in dozens of cities suggest however his popularity may be dwindling, at least among middle classes who swung behind him in the early years of political and economic reform that cut back the power of the army and introduced some rights amendments.

‘Erdogan says 50 percent of the people voted for him. I’m here to show I belong to the other 50 percent, the half of the population whose feelings he showed no respect for, the ones he is trying to crush,’ says chemistry student Hasine.

‘I want to have a future here in Turkey, a career, a freedom to live my life. But all these are under threat. I want Erdogan to understand,’ she adds.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden last night said only Turks can solve the problem of anti-government protests sowing unrest in Turkey. But he says the U.S. is concerned and isn’t indifferent to the outcome.

Ready for action: A gas mask-clad protester carries a dustbin lid as a shield during clashes with police near Prime Minister Erdogan's office, between Taksim and Besiktas, in the early hours of Tuesday morning

Ready for action: A gas mask-clad protester carries a dustbin lid as a shield during clashes with police near Prime Minister Erdogan’s office, between Taksim and Besiktas, in the early hours of Tuesday morning

Manning the barricades: Many young Turks are worried about the introduction of new, apparently Islamic-inspired laws brought in by Erdogan, who has strong support in the conservative Anatolian heartland

Manning the barricades: Many young Turks are worried about the introduction of new, apparently Islamic-inspired laws brought in by Erdogan, who has strong support in the conservative Anatolian heartland

A man holds a flag bearing the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern, secular Turkey on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 and encouraged the country to throw off its religious traditions

A man holds a flag bearing the image of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded modern, secular Turkey on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire in 1923 and encouraged the country to throw off its religious traditions

Speaking at at the American-Turkish Council’s annual conference, which was attended by one of Turkey’s deputy prime ministers, Mr Biden said the U.S. supports free assembly, a free press and non-violence by government and demonstrators.

He added that Turkey mustn’t choose between democracy and economic progress.

He also said the U.S. and Turkey sometimes disagree on tactics but share common goals, like a two-state solution in Israel, a non-nuclear Iran and a nonsectarian Syria.

Protesters are coming better prepared now than when the unrest first began.

Some have hard-hats, some are dressed all in black, most wear running shoes. But many are dressed as femininely as the girl in the red dress snapped on Taksim Square.

‘Of course I’m nervous and I know I could be in danger here,’ said 23 year-old economics student Busra, who says her parents support her protest.

‘But for me that is nothing compared to the danger of losing the Turkish Republic, its freedoms and spirit.’

Drenched: A group of young women are hit with a high-pressure spray from a water cannon during demonstrations in Ankara yesterday. The crackdown has left two dead and more than 1,000 injured

Drenched: A group of young women are hit with a high-pressure spray from a water cannon during demonstrations in Ankara yesterday. The crackdown has left two dead and more than 1,000 injured

Come prepared: Three women shout slogans against the government in Ankara. Around their necks they wear masks to put on in the event that police respond to their demonstration by firing tear gas canisters

Come prepared: Three women shout slogans against the government in Ankara. Around their necks they wear masks to put on in the event that police respond to their demonstration by firing tear gas canisters

Determined: Women shout slogans against the government on a bright sunny day in Istanbul yesterday

Determined: Women shout slogans against the government on a bright sunny day in Istanbul yesterday

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif Demands End of Drone Strikes As First Official Act

Nawaz Sharif elected Pakistan's PM for third time

Nawaz Sharif elected Pakistan’s PM for third time
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s new prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Wednesday called for the United States to end its campaign of drone attacks in the country’s tribal northwest in his first address since taking office.

“We respect the sovereignty of others and they should also respect our sovereignty and independence. This campaign should come to an end,” he said after lawmakers endorsed him for an unprecedented third term as premier.

UN Investigators Finding Evidence of Syrian Terrorist Groups’ War Crimes

[SEE:  ’Grounds’ to believe chemical use by both sides in Syria: UN probe ]

By Flavia Krause-Jackson & Sangwon Yoon

Syrian opposition forces recruited a 14-year-old boy from Homs as a fighter and had a child take part in beheading two government soldiers, according to a United Nations report citing human-rights abuses by both sides in Syria’s civil war.

A conflict that began with anti-government protests amid widespread Arab revolts two years ago has mutated into a life-or-death battle pitting an Alawite-led minority, clinging to power with help from the Shiite Hezbollah militia, against Sunni-led rebels that count al-Qaeda fighters among their ranks.

While abuses by the opposition haven’t reached “the intensity and scale” of those committed by President Bashar al-Assad’s forces and affiliated militias, they are becoming increasingly common and brutal, according to the report presented today in Geneva to the UN Human Rights Council.

Mass executions are publicly carried out in locations such as Daraa and Aleppo, where the rebels have established judicial and administrative authority, the 29-page report said. The number of extra-judicial killings and kidnappings by the opposition has risen, and about 86 child soldiers have been killed during combat, it said.

With Assad barring access to Syria by outsiders, the report is based on 430 interviews with victims and firsthand witnesses to atrocities. It offers a glimpse into the country’s descent into chaos. It was produced by a four-member commission investigating war crimes in Syria.

Beheading Video

The report drew attention to video footage, submitted by the Russian mission to the UN in Geneva, showing the decapitation of two regime soldiers, with a child responsible for one beheading. “Following investigation, it is believed that the video is authentic and the men were soldiers, killed as depicted,” the UN panel said.

The findings cover a four-month period ending May 15 and say that 17 potential massacres took place during that time. Government-affiliated militia, known as Shabiha, are linked in the report to the mass killing of dozens of women and children in the Sunni coastal village of al-Bayda. In the eastern province of Deir al-Zor, the report says, armed anti-Assad groups executed 11 men who were bound and blindfolded.

Pro-Assad forces are guilty of sexual violence during house searches, at checkpoints and in detention centers, and torture of detainees is endemic, the report found. Since late January, more than 200 bodies have been found in Aleppo’s “river of martyrs,” as the Queiq River has become known.

Multiple Factions

The opposition is comprised of multiple anti-government factions, from exiled dissidents to armed militants, which have struggled to form a united front. As political leaders are negotiating efforts to assemble a broad opposition coalition to gain international support and legitimacy, factions fighting on the front lines are increasingly focusing on battlefield gains at any cost.

The continuing violence has allowed radical groups, particularly the al-Qaeda linked Islamist militia Jabhat al-Nusra, to become more influential in day-to-day combat, the report said.

As reports alleging use of nerve gas multiply — with at least six possible incidents reported to the UN so far — the human-rights panel said it “is possible that anti-government armed groups may access and use chemical weapons.” Each side in the conflict has accused the other of chemical attacks and denied its own involvement.

Chemical Weapons

The commission, led by Brazilian diplomat Paulo Pinheiro, didn’t confirm the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

Instead, it played down comments last month by Carla Del Ponte, a member of the independent UN panel who said there were signs that rebels, and not just government forces, had released nerve agents in combat.

“There is no compelling evidence that these groups possess such weapons or their requisite delivery systems,” the report said.

A separate UN team of scientists has been set up to investigate chemical warfare allegations. So far, the inspectors, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, haven’t been allowed to enter Syria to get a first-hand look at evidence and construct a chain of custody.

President Barack Obama has said Syrian government use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line,” though the U.S. lacks conclusive evidence that it has happened. Obama hasn’t said what the U.S. will do if chemical weapons use is confirmed.

To contact the reporters on this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson in New York at fjackson@bloomberg.net; Sangwon Yoon in New York at syoon32@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at jwalcott9@bloomberg.net

Turkish Prime Minister Denies “Turkish Spring,” Despite Continuing, Nationwide Clashes

[Photographic rebuttal follows Erdogan's denials below.]

Turkey PM denies “Turkish Spring” amid fresh clashes

News Asia

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday rejected talk of a “Turkish Spring”, facing down the worst protests in his decade-long rule as fresh clashes erupted between police and demonstrators in Ankara.

Protesters clash with riot police near Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan office. (AFP/Gurcan Ozturk)

ISTANBUL – Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday rejected talk of a “Turkish Spring”, facing down the worst protests in his decade-long rule as fresh clashes erupted between police and demonstrators in Ankara.

Erdogan defied protesters who accuse him of seeking to impose conservative Islamic reforms on secular Turkey, stressing that he was democratically elected.

[ALL PHOTOS PAST 24 HOURS,  FROM MULTIPLE SOURCES]

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Turkey protests in pictures

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Anglo-French Idiocy—Pouring arms into Syria will spell more disaster

[The following article from an unusual source, The Times of Oman, has a broken link on their website, even though it was written by the site's editor.  I found it on Silobreaker, which has a corrected address.]

Pouring arms in Syria will spell more disaster

TIMES OF OMAN

British Foreign Secretary William Hague has now become William Vague. The world has thus re-christened him following the bizarre argument he put forward while forcing the EU to lift arms embargo on Syrian opposition. Supported by Britain’s poodle, France, William argued that withdrawal of the embargo will enable the Syrian opposition to fight back the regime; empower the moderates (the pro-West) rebels; fortify their positions; dissuade them from defecting to better-armed pro-Al Qaeda extremist groups and mount pressure on all stakeholders to attend the proposed peace conference.

William perhaps couldn’t have been more vague. Evidently, his arguments were based on conjectures and, more than that, they were precariously fraught with the danger of spilling the conflict over a “region extending from the Straits of Hormuz to the Mediterranean.” In foisting their move to arm the Syrian opposition, Britain and France have obviously not taken into consideration the regional dimension of the raging Syrian conflict. In their myopia they risked “fuelling a speedy and devastating escalation of the conflict”.

Russia was rather quick in its response to the Anglo-French move. Moscow announced to deliver advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Syria. Russia’s announcement scuttled William’s basic assumptions. Advanced S-300 missiles will only tilt the balance of firepower in favour of the regime and dangerously undermine opposition’s ability to fight back.

Russian deputy foreign minister, Sergei Ryabkov, was blunt in his defence of Kremlin’s announcement. The missiles, he said, would stabilise the emotions in Europe and discourage “hotheads” from dabbling further into a conflict which isn’t theirs. In an overt warning to Britain and France Ryabkov said that the EU decision to let the arms embargo lapse may directly jeopardise the Geneva peace talks on Syria.

William’s assumption that withdrawal of arms embargo will force all stakeholders to attend the proposed peace conference was proved wrong. Britain and France thus escalated the conflict more than working towards its resolution.

The proxy war the West and Russia have been fighting for past two years in Syria has now come into open. Even the sectarian war for the control of Middle East and Muslim world will escalate. And an obvious ramification will be a prolonged confrontation between Al Qaeda and Hezbollah which will equally bloody and no-hold-bar.

The Anglo-French move towards “capacity building” of the Syrian rebels is hazardously open ended. More than building fighting capacities of the “moderate” rebels most of the arms will find way to Al Qaeda and empower them beyond imagination. Syrian President Bashar Al Assad is no more a friend to the West. But neither is Al Qaeda. To aid Al Qaeda, directly or indirectly, will only imperil the world.

Armed with Russian advanced S-300 anti-aircraft missiles the regime too will gain awesome firepower. This “radar-guided missiles that could be used by (the regime) against any target, airborne or not” will become a game changer in Syria.

Simon Tisdall, an assistant editor of the Guardian, says that Britain acted as a stalking horse for the US in the EU talks, softening up the ground for an American intervention – not the first time London has played this ignoble role. And “if the EU moves were followed by similar action by the Obama administration, as congressional Republicans, such as Senator John McCain, would like” the situation will certainly implode into a full scale multi-layered regional war with Russia too stepping in with no uncertain terms.

The West has a long history of picking up sides in wars and conflicts to its own detriment; but this time it has done so to the detriment of the world. The first casualty will be the UN peace keeping mission in Golan Heights. Austria has already threatened to pull its 300 soldiers out of the mission if Britain moves on to arm Syrian rebels. Austrian move may well inspire other stakeholders in the UN mission. The threatened withdrawal “would heighten the growing sense of greater Middle East crisis, creating a vacuum on the strategically vital heights which the Israelis would be tempted to fill quickly”.

Through history we have seen war holding irresistible attractions for democratic leaders. Britain and France are the two nations in particular, who have had carved out empires through wars, bloodshed, plunder and treachery, have always shown uncanny penchant for wars. With their national character more like that of vultures they have always thrived on carcasses of nations fomenting division, encouraging strife and plundering. The EU was thus terribly wrong in believing William and his French counterpart.

Effort to topple Assad by pouring in arms in Syria is a flawed philosophy. It will not see Assad stepping down neither will it end his rule. Two years have already passed by and the Syrian conflict has not shown any sign of abating. Earlier this year the United Nations estimated at least 70,000 people dead there.

By now the toll must have crossed 80,000. In the past three weeks 300 more have died.
Supplying arms to the rebels may or may not build the rebels’ capacity to fight the regime. But the move will ensure more death, more orphans, more widows and more parents burying their sons.

The author is the Opinion Editor of Times of Oman.

“Britain’s military judgment is no more coherent than its political.”

[The following piece is an excellent British confession that the Western powers have destroyed the Middle East.  It is lacking in one major area---the author blames all of this on ineptitude and lack of foresight, rather than design.  Chaos and destabilization were the goals of US/British intervention from Asia to Africa, since the great war plan was hatched decades ago.  Only by sowing widespread chaos can the Western powers hope to establish their New Order.  American/British military policies for this time and place are not the "comedy of errors" that apologists for the Evil Empire want us to believe.  Our military leaders are masters of deceit, but they are lousy jugglers.  They have way too many psyops spinning around, not to drop a few of the balls, allowing us to see the masks of human depravity, hiding behind the smiling clown faces.]obama clown

Syria and the Middle East: our greatest miscalculation since the rise of fascism 

the guardian

By helping to destroy secular politics in the Middle East, the west has unleashed the Shia/Sunni conflict now tearing it apart

satoshi

Illustration by Satoshi Kambayashi

There could no more dreadful idea than to pour more armaments into the sectarian war now consuming Syria. Yet that is precisely what Britain’s coalition government wants to do. The foreign secretary, William Hague, seemed on Monday to parody his hero Pitt the Younger by demanding “how long must we go on allowing … ?” and “what we want to see is …”. Who is this we? But even Pitt would never be so stupid as to declare war on Syria, which is the only morally sound outcome of Hague’s rhetorical mission creep.

For two years pundits have proclaimed the imminent fall of Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad. High on Arab spring, they declared he would fall from the logic of history. Or he would fall because western sanctions would bring him down. Or he would fall because the media, as in the novel Scoop, were with the rebels and had decided they would win.

Assad has not fallen. He is still there, locked in the lethal Muslim schism that resurfaced with the demise of the region’s secularist dictators. These have now almost all gone: the shah in Iran, Najibullah in Afghanistan, Saddam in Iraq, Mubarak in Egypt, Gaddafi in Libya. They had faults in abundance, but they succeeded in suppressing religious discord, instilling rudimentary tolerance and keeping the region mostly in order. This was in the west’s interest, and the rulers, like those in the Gulf, were supported accordingly.

Turning turtle and abetting their downfall may yet prove the most disastrous miscalculation of western diplomacy since the rise of fascism. Prior to the Iraq war, Saddam persecuted the Shias, but their shrines were safe and intermarriage was common. After the war, Sunni and Shia are torn asunder, with a death toll of ghastly proportions. Similar agony may soon be visited on the Afghans. Libya’s Tripoli is more unstable now the west has toppled Gaddafi, its fundamentalist guerrillas spreading mayhem south across the Sahara to Algeria, Mali and Nigeria.

These upheavals might have occurred without western intervention. The revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt were largely self-starting. Islamist parties often came to power, because they offered an alternative discipline to the existing regimes. But the west’s sudden zest for “wars of choice”, its meddling in the politics of Pakistan and its sabre-rattling in Iran have created a cause on to which neoconservative Islamism could fasten.

Al-Qaida was in 2000 a tiny group of fanatics. America and Britain have portrayed it as an all-powerful enemy, apparently lurking in support of every anti-secularist rebellion. Cameron calls it “an existential terrorist threat… to inflict the biggest possible amount of damage to our interests and way of life”. Yet stabbings and bombings do not constitute an “existential threat”. The UK is a stronger culture than Cameron appears to believe. There is no threat to its existence, while the chief damage being done to its way of life comes from the incompetence of its government.

Syria is at present certainly a claim on the world’s humanitarian resources, to be honoured by supporting the refugee camps and aid agencies active in the area. Assad’s suppression of revolt has been appallingly brutal, but he was Britain’s friend, as was Saddam, long after his regime began its brutality. That is how things are in this part of the world. The west cannot stop them. To conclude that “we cannot allow this to happen” assumes a potency over other people’s affairs that “we” do not possess.

Pouring arms into Syria will no more topple Assad or “drive him to the negotiating table” than did two years of blood-curdling sanctions. Hague knows this perfectly well, as he knows there is no way arms can be sent to “good” rebels and not to bad ones. He knows that if you want one side to win a civil war, the only honest way is to fight on its side. We did that in Kosovo and Libya. In Syria, Hague has fallen back on Kipling’s “killing Kruger with your mouth”.

The differences between Sunni and Shia, now tearing at nations in the Middle East, are deeply embedded in Islam. As the scholar Malise Ruthven has pointed out, outsiders preaching tolerance are no use. These disputes are intractable “since the acceptance of pluralism relativises truth”. For Sunni to accept Shia and vice versa is for each to deny the faith.

Christianity, after centuries of similar bloodshed, has learned religious tolerance (though in Northern Ireland, Britain can hardly talk). Much of Islam has not. The one antidote lay in the rise of secular politics. This is the politics that Britain destroyed in Iraq and Libya, in the belief that it was bringing democracy and peace. It has brought chaos.

Britain’s military judgment is no more coherent than its political. It thinks it can conquer Syria – which is what toppling Assad would require – by proxy. But sending weapons cannot make a difference, and will merely entice Britain into promising troops, unless it wishes to desert the rebels. Like American backing for the Taliban in the 1990s, the idea that “my enemy’s enemy must be my friend” could yet see British special forces fighting alongside al-Qaida in Syria.

War holds a terrible appeal for democratic leaders. Most of Europe’s rulers have other matters on their hands, but Britain and France, two nations whose ancient empires carved up the Levant between them, cannot keep out of it. They see national interest and danger where none exists. They cannot relieve Syria’s agony, yet hope some vague belligerence might bring relief.

The reality is they hope that belligerence might draw attention from political troubles back home. That is the worst reason for going to war.

British Public Waking-Up To Fact That ALL RADICAL ISLAMIST Groups Are Intelligence Agency Creations

The initial reaction to the brutal killing of Lee Rigby, a 25-year-old off-duty British soldier, in Woolwich last week was to renew the debate over apparent “lone wolf” acts of terrorism. There are those who believe the attack was the latest in a series of terror acts that have a common denominator – the al-Qa’ida-linked group formerly known as al-Muhajiroun.

Founded by the Syrian cleric Omar Bakri Mohammed before being taken over by Anjem Choudary, it was banned in 2010. But it has been linked to one in five terrorists convicted in Britain over more than a decade.

It is little surprise that the Woolwich suspects have been on Whitehall’s radar for years. Mr Choudary has already admitted knowing Michael “Mujahid” Adebolajo, as someone who “attended our meetings and my lectures”.

Al-Muhajiroun has continued to function with impunity, most recently under the banner of Izhar Ud-Deen-il-Haq. According to a former US Army intelligence officer, John Loftus, three senior al-Muhajiroun figures – Mr Bakri Mohammed, Abu Hamza and Haroon Rashid Aswat – were recruited by MI6 in 1996 to influence Islamist activities in the Balkans.

In 2000, Mr Bakri Mohammed admitted training British Muslims to fight as jihadists abroad. That same year, he boasted: “The British government knows who we are. MI5 has interrogated us many times. I think now we have something called public immunity.”

A year later, the private security firm set up by Mr Bakri Mohammed in cohorts with Abu Hamza – Sakina Security Services – was raided by police and eventually shut down. Speaking in Parliament at the time, Andrew Dismore MP claimed the firm sent Britons “overseas for jihad training with live arms and ammunition”. Yet Mr Bakri Mohammed and Abu Hamza were not even arrested, let alone charged or prosecuted over this.

Proscription and extradition have failed. What we need is a willingness to prosecute. The failure to do so is influenced by narrow geopolitical interests resulting from Britain’s subservience to US strategy in the Muslim world. According to the former MI6 officer Alastair Crooke, the Saudis, in pursuit of benefiting mutual US-Saudi interests, have played the role of proxy to the Americans, mobilising Islamist extremists to destabilise parts of the Middle East.

As David Cameron renews Britain’s commitment to supporting the rebels in Syria, who include al-Qa’ida-affiliated Islamists, questions must be asked whether Britain’s secret services have been compromised by short-sighted geopolitical interests.

Dr Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed is the author of ‘The London Bombings: An Independent Inquiry’