U.S. puts jets in Jordan, fuels Russian fear of Syria no-fly zone

[The “Eager Lion” exercise playing-out in Jordan this week is an international Special Forces war game, involving the 5th Fleet’s Expeditionary Strike Group 5 and 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, commanding more than 40 amphibious assault ships, carrying at least 7 helo aircraft carriers, with up to 200 helicopters, as many as 50 Harrier jump-jets and an unknown number of tilt-rotar Ospreys.  It has been reported that a “detachment of F16s” (24 aircraft?) and Patriot missile batteries would be left in Jordan after the exercise. 

Since Jordan is almost a landlocked country, except for the port of Aqaba, on the Red Sea (Damascus is 286.1 miles away from Aqaba), this means that most of these 40 ships are probably in the Med, where they will be face-to-face with the Russian fleet, now stationed off Syria.  The USS Nimitz Strike Group, with 90 fixed-wing aircraft, is also currently consigned to the 5th Fleet.  Regardless of the number of F16s left behind in Jordan, the Navy alone, has enough assets on hand to put a Syrian “no-fly-zone” in place.  This says nothing about the sabotage potential of nearly one thousand Navy Seals and Marines, that are also on board those ships.  It looks like Obama plans on making Syria a navy operation. 

Hell is coming, probably within a week.  Look for Eager Lion to “go live” at the end of the war game, just like the Sept. 11 attacks and the London train bombing.  I guess that I was getting tired of waiting for Armegeddon to begin, anyway.  We all will have ringside seats to the big Big Show.]

U.S. puts jets in Jordan, fuels Russian fear of Syria no-fly zone

Reuters

A Free Syrian Army fighter communicates using a walkie-talkie in the Mouazafeen neighbourhood in Deir al-Zor, June 14, 2013. Picture taken June 14, 2013. REUTERS-Khalil Ashawi

By Oliver Holmes

BEIRUT

(Reuters) – The United States said on Saturday it would keep F-16 fighters and Patriot missiles in Jordan at Amman’s request, and Russia bristled at the possibility they could be used to enforce a no-fly zone inside Syria.

Washington, which has long called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, pledged military support to Syrian rebels this week, citing what it said was the Syrian military’s use of chemical weapons – an allegation Damascus has denied.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has approved a Jordanian request for American F-16s and Patriot missiles to remain in the Western-backed kingdom after a joint military exercise there next week, a Pentagon spokesman said.

Western diplomats said on Friday Washington was considering a limited no-fly zone over parts of Syria, but the White House noted later that it would be far harder and costlier to set one up there than it was in Libya, saying the United States had no national interest in pursuing that option.

Russia, an ally of Damascus and fierce opponent of outside military intervention in Syria, said any attempt to impose a no-fly zone using F-16s and Patriots from Jordan would be illegal.

“You don’t have to be a great expert to understand that this will violate international law,” Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said.

The idea of a no-fly zone was endorsed by Egypt, the biggest Arab nation. President Mohamed Mursi, an Islamist more distant from Washington than his deposed military predecessor, made a keynote speech in Cairo throwing Egypt’s substantial weight more firmly than before against President Bashar al-Assad.

Despite their differences, the United States and Russia announced in May they would try to convene peace talks involving the Syrian government and its opponents, but have set no date.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said chemical attacks by Syrian forces and Hezbollah’s involvement on Assad’s side showed a lack of commitment to negotiations and threatened to “put a political settlement out of reach”.

Kerry had not previously expressed such pessimism about prospects for the conference, which has run into many obstacles.

These include disarray in the Syrian opposition and military gains by the Syrian army and its Lebanese Hezbollah allies against rebels who have few ways to counter Assad’s air power.

The involvement of Hezbollah fighters on the side of Assad, a fellow ally of the main Shi’ite power Iran, has galvanized Arab governments, including Egypt, behind the rebels, who mostly follow the Sunni version of Islam that dominates the Arab world.

That has hardened sectarian confrontation across the region, which some Arabs hope might be softened by the election of the moderate Hassan Rohani as Iran’s president – though few believe he can truly influence Tehran’s supreme leader.

Mursi, addressing thousands of cheering supporters at a stadium gathering organized by Egyptian Sunni clerics, demanded Hezbollah pull out of Syria and, after his Muslim Brotherhood joined calls for jihad against Assad and his Shi’ite allies, the president said Cairo had now cut diplomatic ties with Damascus.

Egypt’s powerful, U.S.-backed army seems unlikely to involve itself in Syria, but religious passions are running high and more Egyptian volunteers could travel to join the rebels.

AIR STRIKES

The pro-opposition Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Syrian jets and artillery had again attacked Jobar, a battered district where rebels operate on the edge of central Damascus.

It said heavy artillery was also shelling opposition fighters in the provinces of Homs, Aleppo and Deir al-Zor.

Western powers have been reluctant in the past to arm Syrian insurgents, let alone give them sophisticated anti-aircraft missiles that might fall into the hands of Sunni Islamist insurgents in rebel ranks who have pledged loyalty to al Qaeda.

Free Syrian Army (FSA) commander Salim Idriss told Reuters late on Friday that rebels urgently needed anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles, as well as a protective no-fly zone.

“But our friends in the United States haven’t told us yet that they are going to support us with weapons and ammunition,” he said after meeting U.S. and European officials in Turkey.

A source in the Middle East familiar with U.S. dealings with the rebels has said planned arms supplies would include automatic weapons, light mortars and rocket-propelled grenades.

The United Nations says at least 93,000 people, including civilians and combatants, have died in the Syrian civil war, with the monthly death toll averaging 5,000 in the past year.

Abu Nidal, from the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham rebel group, said U.S. help was welcome, but questioned how effective it would be.

“I doubt the influx of weapons will significantly tip the balance into our favor,” he said via Skype. “They might help push back regime offensives of the last few days.”

SYRIAN OFFICERS DEFECT

Abu Nidal’s faction is not part of the more moderate FSA, Washington’s chosen channel for military aid, but he said the two groups fight alongside each other on the battlefield.

The FSA was set up by defectors from the Syrian military in August 2011, but many rebel factions operate independently.

Assad’s armed forces have remained relatively cohesive, although a Turkish official said 71 Syrian army officers, including six generals, had just defected to Turkey, in the biggest such mass desertion in months.

Western nations have stopped short of arming Syrian rebels or mounting an air campaign as they did, with U.N. approval, to help Libyan insurgents topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.

Intervening against Assad is considered riskier because Syria has a stronger military, sits on the sectarian faultlines of the Middle East, and is supported by Iran and Russia, which has vetoed three U.N. Security Council resolutions on Syria.

Yet an apparent shift in the military balance in Assad’s favor, especially with the arrival of thousands of Shi’ite fighters from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah group, has made his swift removal look unlikely without outside intervention.

However, Israel’s defense minister suggested the pendulum could still swing the other way, despite the capture this month of Qusair, a former rebel stronghold near the Lebanese border.

“Bashar al-Assad’s victory in Qusair was not a turning point in the Syrian civil war, and I do not believe that he has the momentum to win,” said Moshe Yaalon, who is visiting Washington.

“He controls just 40 percent of the territory in Syria. Hezbollah is involved in the fighting in Syria and has suffered many casualties in the battles, and as far as we know, it is more than 1,000 casualties,” Yaalon said in a statement.

“We should be prepared for a long civil war with ups and downs.”

Israel has not taken sides in Syria, but does not want to see any Western anti-aircraft missiles or other advanced arms reach Islamist militants hostile to the Jewish state.

(Additional reporting by Jonathon Burch in Ankara, Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem, Mark Hosenball in Washington, Thomas Grove in Moscow and Tom Perry and Alastair Macdonald in Cairo; Editing by Andrew Roche)

Istanbul Protesters Regroup To Retake Taksim Square

Thousands gather in different areas of Istanbul to march to Taksim Square

hurriyet

 

ISTANBUL

 

 

Thousands in Istanbul walked across the arterial roads hours after the police's crackdown in Taksim.

Thousands in Istanbul walked across the arterial roads hours after the police’s crackdown in Taksim.

Thousands in Istanbul gathered on the streets in several districts of the city to march to Taksim Square, hours after the police’s muscled evacuation of Gezi Park.

Hundreds at the Asian Kadıköy district gathered to cross the Bosphorus Bridge on foot in the direction of the European side of the city. People joined the protesters from their houses, banging pots to make noise while cars on the road sounded their horns. Police intervened against the group, barring the road to prevent the protesters reaching the bridge. The security forces also called on them to continue demonstrations on Bağdat Avenue, the commercial street of the Asian side, where many also gathered following the crackdown in Taksim. Clahses later broke out at Fikirtepe between as police used tear gas to quell protesters.

Many protesters also gathered on the European side in neighborhoods such as Etiler, Bakırköy and Mecidiyeköy, walking on the arterial roads disrupting the car traffic. Clashes broke out between police and protesters near Mecidiyeköy and spread to the side streets of the centric neighborhood.

People in the sensitive Gazi neighborhood, home to many Alevis and where clashes had continued on the sidelines of the protests, also gathered in the streets.

The police’s heavy-handed intervention to evacuate Gezi Park came only an hour after the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ultimatum to protesters, giving them a day to end demonstrations.

Clashes between the police and protesters are continuing around the park.

Senator Mark Udall Seeks Review of Patriot Act Amid Surveillance Report—(new Church Committee in the making?)

Senator seeks review of Patriot Act amid surveillance report

Reuters

U.S. Senator Mark Udall speaks during a memorial service marking the anniversary of the Tuscon shooting, at the University of Arizona campus January 8, 2012. REUTERS/Laura Segall

U.S. Senator Mark Udall speaks during a memorial service marking the anniversary of the Tuscon shooting, at the University of Arizona campus January 8, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Laura Segall

By Caren Bohan

WASHINGTON

(Reuters) – A Democratic senator called on Sunday for a review of the Patriot Act, the post-September 11, 2001, law that gave U.S. intelligence agencies broader powers of data surveillance, after disclosures the government has been collecting massive amounts of data on phone and Internet activities.

Senator Mark Udall, a member of the Intelligence Committee, said he thought another look at the law was warranted as reports of the data collection stirred a debate over privacy rights in the United States.

“I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” Udall told the ABC program “This Week.”

Udall said there must be a balance between protecting the country against terrorist attacks and respecting Americans’ constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure.

“It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up,” he said. “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.”

The Guardian reported last week that the super-secret National Security Agency has been mining phone records from millions of American customers of a subsidiary of Verizon Communications.

The Washington Post revealed a separate program, code-named Prism, that gives federal authorities access to data from companies including Google Inc., Apple Inc and Facebook Inc on emails, photos and other files.

Republican Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky told “Fox News Sunday” he would consider a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the phone surveillance program.

“They are looking at a billion phone calls a day from what I read in the press and that doesn’t sound to me like a modest invasion of privacy, it sounds like an extraordinary invasion of privacy,” Paul said.

But two senior lawmakers defended the Obama administration’s phone and Internet surveillance programs, saying they have helped to prevent attacks on the United States and have been subjected to strict reviews.

“These programs are within the law,” said Dianne Feinstein, the Democratic chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, told “This Week.”

“Part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe,” added Feinstein. “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it.”

Republican Mike Rogers, chairman of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee, agreed with Feinstein that the programs were important for national security.

“One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,” he said.

Republican Senator John McCain told CNN he believed the surveillance programs were justified because threats to the United States from abroad have been “growing, not diminishing.”

“I do believe that if this was September 12th, 2001, we might not be having the argument that we are having today,” McCain said.

But the Arizona senator said it made sense for Congress to review the programs. “I think it’s entirely appropriate that we have congressional review, that we have executive review. And we take the case to the American people to some degree as so what we are doing,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Paul Simao and David Morgan; Editing by Doina Chiacu)

Sec. State Kerry Acting Like Taliban’s Lawyer In Discussions with Pres. Karzai

[Karzai appears to be the only world leader who clearly sees the truth about the so-called “war against terror” (SEE:  Hamid Karzai says US, Taliban are colluding )  He understands that this has never been a real “war,” it has always been a series of staged events, or “false flags,” intended to create the appearance of a real war.  Kerry is squirming in his hot seat, struggling to negotiate a place at the Afghan table for the very terrorists that we have allegedly been fighting against.  The terror war has always been the greatest hoax in human history, intended to deceive the American people into willingly, passively embracing an American police state.  Perhaps the growing anti-Obama backlash against revelations of widespread govt. surveillance and the wholesale abuse of American Constitutional rights will expand to encompass outrage for “synthetic terror war” (SEE: 911 SYNTHETIC TERRORISM, MADE IN USABy Webster Griffin Tarpley).  No matter what happens in Afghanistan, Americans must now seize their own destinies, or surrender them to a US dictatorship.]

Karzai, Kerry spar over peace drive

Pajhwok

By Pajhwok Report

KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai and US Secretary of State John Kerry recently had testy exchanges on the issue of reconciliation between the Afghan government and the Taliban, an official said on Friday.

During an hour-long telephonic conversation with Kerry a week back, Karzai made clear the Afghans would never allow their country’s return to instability and anarchy.

While acknowledging the need for national reconciliation, Karzai said his nation’s genuine desire for peace should not be misused as a tool of promoting outsiders’ nefarious designs.

One senior official familiar with the unusually long phone conversation confided to Pajhwok Afghan News that the discussion hotted up when Kerry tended to intercede with the president on behalf of the Taliban.

He recalled the US had adopted a similar pro-Taliban stance at meetings in Washington, London and Brussels. The Americans were pushing for opening Taliban’s political bureau in Qatar on terms and conditions that would make the office look like a diplomatic mission, the official said.

Afghanistan would run the risk of sliding back into warlordism and lawlessness if the Taliban and US terms were accepted, warned the source, who alleged some foreigners literally acted like representatives of the insurgent movement.

“We have been sparring with Western officials, particularly with Americans, over the past six months on why they have been throwing their weight behind the fighters. This is a pretty bizarre situation,” the official remarked.

mud

Is Washington’s Lafayette Park About To Become Obama’s Tiananmen/Tahrir Square?

Lafayette Park

Analysis: Obama’s agenda scorched in firestorm

usa_today_long

Susan Page, @susanpage, USA TODAY

WASHINGTON — President Obama, meet the second-term curse.

Revelations that the U.S. government has been collecting a massive database of telephone usage by millions of Americans — citizens not suspected of any wrongdoing — created a firestorm Thursday that would be damaging for any administration. But it is is especially problematic for Obama because it stokes controversies he already was struggling to contain and reinforces criticism that has dogged him from the start.

MORE: NSA taps data from 9 major Net firms

Republicans have long depicted Obama as an advocate of a big, dangerous and overreaching government, back to the federal bailout of the auto industry he undertook during the financial crisis that greeted his first inauguration. That has been their fundamental philosophical objection to his signature Affordable Care Act, now just months away from implementation of its major provisions.

In recent weeks, it has fueled outrage over the targeting by the Internal Revenue Service of conservative Tea Party groups seeking non-profit status, and over the use of secret subpoenas and search warrants against the Associated Press and Fox News in Justice Department investigations of news leaks.

Now the headlines are focused on governmental monitoring that touches not just reporters but, apparently, just about anyone who makes a phone call. Thursday began with explosions over a story in The Guardian in London of a broad secret U.S. warrant for phone records from Verizon. By midday, Senate Intelligence Chairman Dianne Feinstein had confirmed the surveillance had been going on for years. By the end of the day, The Washington Post and The Guardian reported that a data-mining program targeting foreigners was tapping into such Internet companies as Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Facebook.

All that overwhelmed the president’s planned message for the day, and likely well beyond. (For the record, he had stopped by Mooresville Middle School outside Charlotte to promote his plan to provide schools with high-speed Internet access. Not that anyone noticed.)

And in a bit of timing that is at least awkward, he holds high-profile meetings in California today with President Xi Jinping of China — a government the United States has long faulted for its heavy-handed treatment of its own people.

Indeed, as a U.S. senator from Illinois in 2007, Barack Obama blasted President George W. Bush for sweeping surveillance of Americans in the name of battling terrorism — just the sort of justification that Obama officials were making Thursday.

Then, Obama called it “a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we demand.”

“I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies with the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our Constitution and our freedom,” he said in a speech then. “No more national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime. No more tracking citizens who do nothing more than protest a misguided war. No more ignoring the law when it is inconvenient. That is not who we are. And it is not what is necessary to defeat the terrorists.”

To be sure, Obama didn’t launch the data-mining initiatives, which were started during the Bush administration, though he has expanded them. He had defenders Thursday ranging from California Sen. Feinstein, a liberal Democrat, to South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, a conservative Republican. “It’s called protecting America,” Feinstein said.

But his critics also spanned the political spectrum. “Is it just me, or is secret blanket surveillance obscenely outrageous?” former vice president Al Gore posted on Twitter. Rep. James Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin, an author of the Patriot Act that was used to obtain the court order, called it “excessive and un-American.”

The scarcest precious resource for second-term presidents isn’t political clout, which they demonstrate by joining the small fraternity of those who have managed to win the presidency twice. It is time — the time to pursue the agenda they choose before a scandal or foreign-policy crisis erupts, and before the next presidential campaign begins to consume all the oxygen in town. For former president Bill Clinton, the Monica Lewinsky affair ended his hopes of winning serious entitlement reform during his second term. Former president Richard Nixon found himself bedeviled with and eventually forced from office by the Watergate scandal.

Obama’s plan has been to be able to win approval for and sign a comprehensive immigration bill in Congress by fall. He hopes to be able to negotiate a big budget deal that would curb the deficit and put Medicare on a firmer long-term footing before the 2014 midterm elections and the 2016 presidential race seize the political world.

Instead, explaining and defending these surveillance programs — what they are, how they work and why he thinks they’re needed — are about to take up a lot of his time.

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.