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)

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Obama Set To Seal the Fate of Humanity By Exploiting Sunni/Shia Schism

storyD_main

[Obama is such a conceited bastard that he really believes that he can pull all of this off, without setting-off a true global conflagration.  Iran has no choice but to reinforce Syrian govt. positions, since the war on Syria is merely the first step in the war on Iran itself.  Obama and the chickenhawk Zionists, who are all afraid to launch a frontal attack against the forces of the Revolutionary Guard, are opening the back door to Iran, leading from Syria, then to Lebanon, before it backfires across the deserts of Jordan and Iraq.  Any fool would already know that the Pentagon will NOT be able to prevent the burning of Syria and Iran from spreading to the oil assets of Saudi Arabia.  Where is “Red Adair,” when we are about to need him much more now, than when he answered the calls coming from “Desert Storm” to put-out the wells fired by Saddam Hussein?]

Iran to send 4,000 troops to aid President Assad forces in Syria

the independent

 

World Exclusive: US urges UK and France to join in supplying arms to Syrian rebels as MPs fear that UK will be drawn into growing conflict

Robert Fisk

Washington’s decision to arm Syria’s Sunni Muslim rebels has plunged America into the great Sunni-Shia conflict of the Islamic Middle East, entering a struggle that now dwarfs the Arab revolutions which overthrew dictatorships across the region.

For the first time, all of America’s ‘friends’ in the region are Sunni Muslims and all of its enemies are Shiites. Breaking all President Barack Obama’s rules of disengagement, the US is now fully engaged on the side of armed groups which include the most extreme Sunni Islamist movements in the Middle East.

The Independent on Sunday has learned that a military decision has been taken in Iran – even before last week’s presidential election – to send a first contingent of 4,000 Iranian Revolutionary Guards to Syria to support President Bashar al-Assad’s forces against the largely Sunni rebellion that has cost almost 100,000 lives in just over two years.  Iran is now fully committed to preserving Assad’s regime, according to pro-Iranian sources which have been deeply involved in the Islamic Republic’s security, even to the extent of proposing to open up a new ‘Syrian’ front on the Golan Heights against Israel.

In years to come, historians will ask how America – after its defeat in Iraq and its humiliating withdrawal from Afghanistan scheduled for  2014 – could have so blithely aligned itself with one side in a titanic Islamic struggle stretching back to the seventh century death of the Prophet Mohamed. The profound effects of this great schism, between Sunnis who believe that the father of Mohamed’s wife was the new caliph of the Muslim world and Shias who regard his son in law Ali as his rightful successor – a seventh century battle swamped in blood around the present-day Iraqi cities of Najaf and Kerbala – continue across the region to this day. A 17th century Archbishop of Canterbury, George Abbott, compared this Muslim conflict to that between “Papists and Protestants”.

America’s alliance now includes the wealthiest states of the Arab Gulf, the vast Sunni territories between Egypt and Morocco, as well as Turkey and the fragile British-created monarchy in Jordan. King Abdullah of Jordan – flooded, like so many neighbouring nations, by hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees – may also now find himself at the fulcrum of the Syrian battle.  Up to 3,000 American ‘advisers’ are now believed to be in Jordan, and the creation of a southern Syria ‘no-fly zone’ – opposed by Syrian-controlled anti-aircraft batteries – will turn a crisis into a ‘hot’ war.  So much for America’s ‘friends’.

Its enemies include the Lebanese Hizballah, the Alawite Shiite regime in Damascus and, of course, Iran. And Iraq, a largely Shiite nation which America ‘liberated’ from Saddam Hussein’s Sunni minority in the hope of balancing the Shiite power of Iran, has – against all US predictions – itself now largely fallen under Tehran’s influence and power.  Iraqi Shiites as well as Hizballah members, have both fought alongside Assad’s forces.

Washington’s excuse for its new Middle East adventure – that it must arm Assad’s enemies because the Damascus regime has used sarin gas against them – convinces no-one in the Middle East.  Final proof of the use of gas by either side in Syria remains almost as nebulous as President George W. Bush’s claim that Saddam’s Iraq possessed weapons of mass destruction.

For the real reason why America has thrown its military power behind Syria’s Sunni rebels is because those same rebels are now losing their war against Assad.  The Damascus regime’s victory this month in the central Syrian town of  Qusayr, at the cost of Hizballah lives as well as those of government forces, has thrown the Syrian revolution into turmoil, threatening to humiliate American and EU demands for Assad to abandon power.  Arab dictators are supposed to be deposed – unless they are the friendly kings or emirs of the Gulf – not to be sustained.  Yet Russia has given its total support to Assad, three times vetoing UN Security Council resolutions that might have allowed the West to intervene directly in the civil war.

In the Middle East, there is cynical disbelief at the American contention that it can distribute arms – almost certainly including anti-aircraft missiles – only to secular Sunni rebel forces in Syria represented by the so-called Free Syria Army.  The more powerful al-Nusrah Front, allied to al-Qaeda, dominates the battlefield on the rebel side and has been blamed for atrocities including the execution of Syrian government prisoners of war and the murder of a 14-year old boy for blasphemy.  They will be able to take new American weapons from their Free Syria Army comrades with little effort.

From now on, therefore, every suicide bombing in Damascus – every war crime committed by the rebels – will be regarded in the region as Washington’s responsibility. The very Sunni-Wahabi Islamists who killed thousands of Americans on 11th September, 2011 – who are America’s greatest enemies as well as Russia’s – are going to be proxy allies of the Obama administration. This terrible irony can only be exacerbated by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s adament refusal to tolerate any form of Sunni extremism.  His experience in Chechenya, his anti-Muslim rhetoric – he has made obscene remarks about Muslim extremists in a press conference in Russian – and his belief that Russia’s old ally in Syria is facing the same threat as Moscow fought in Chechenya, plays a far greater part in his policy towards Bashar al-Assad than the continued existence of Russia’s naval port at the Syrian Mediterranean city of Tartous.

For the Russians, of course, the ‘Middle East’ is not in the ‘east’ at all, but to the south of Moscow;  and statistics are all-important. The Chechen capital of Grozny is scarcely 500 miles from the Syrian frontier.  Fifteen per cent of Russians are Muslim.  Six of the Soviet Union’s communist republics had a Muslim majority, 90 per cent of whom were Sunni.  And Sunnis around the world make up perhaps 85 per cent of all Muslims.  For a Russia intent on repositioning itself across a land mass that includes most of the former Soviet Union, Sunni Islamists of the kind now fighting the Assad regime are its principal antagonists.

Iranian sources say they liaise constantly with Moscow, and that while Hizballah’s overall withdrawal from Syria is likely to be completed soon – with the maintenance of the militia’s ‘intelligence’ teams inside Syria – Iran’s support for Damascus will grow rather than wither.  They point out that the Taliban recently sent a formal delegation for talks in Tehran and that America will need Iran’s help in withdrawing from Afghanistan.  The US, the Iranians say, will not be able to take its armour and equipment out of the country during its continuing war against the Taliban without Iran’s active assistance.  One of the sources claimed – not without some mirth — that the French were forced to leave 50 tanks behind when they left because they did not have Tehran’s help.

It is a sign of the changing historical template in the Middle East that within the framework of old Cold War rivalries between Washington and Moscow, Israel’s security has taken second place to the conflict in Syria.  Indeed, Israel’s policies in the region have been knocked askew by the Arab revolutions, leaving its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hopelessly adrift amid the historic changes.

Only once over the past two years has Israel fully condemned atrocities committed by the Assad regime, and while it has given medical help to wounded rebels on the Israeli-Syrian border, it fears an Islamist caliphate in Damascus far more than a continuation of Assad’s rule.  One former Israel intelligence commander recently described Assad as “Israel’s man in Damascus”.  Only days before President Mubarak was overthrown, both Netanyahu and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called Washington to ask Obama to save the Egyptian dictator.  In vain.

If the Arab world has itself been overwhelmed by the two years of revolutions, none will have suffered from the Syrian war in the long term more than the Palestinians.  The land they wish to call their future state has been so populated with Jewish Israeli colonists that it can no longer be either secure or ‘viable’.  ‘Peace’ envoy Tony Blair’s attempts to create such a state have been laughable.  A future ‘Palestine’ would be a Sunni nation.  But today, Washington scarcely mentions the Palestinians.

Another of the region’s supreme ironies is that Hamas, supposedly the ‘super-terrorists’ of Gaza, have abandoned Damascus and now support the Gulf Arabs’ desire to crush Assad.  Syrian government forces claim that Hamas has even trained Syrian rebels in the manufacture and use of home-made rockets.

In Arab eyes, Israel’s 2006 war against the Shia Hizballah was an attempt to strike at the heart of Iran. The West’s support for Syrian rebels is a strategic attempt to crush Iran. But Iran is going to take the offensive.  Even for the Middle East, these are high stakes. Against this fearful background, the Palestinian tragedy continues.

Erdogan Copies Bashar Assad’s Mistakes—Ordering Police To Treat Protesters As “Terrorists”

[This rebranding of democratic protesters as “terrorists” is a prelude to unleashing lethal force upon the assembled Turkish patriots.   They are there to “redress grieveances,” namely Erdogan’s subversion of Turkey’s democracy to create his Islamist Dictatorship.  At this point, the only thing that can save these people is further demonstrations, which will undoubtedly lead to a massive demonstration of superior firepower by the dictator’s minions and the mass death of dozens patriotic democratic forces.  If Erdogan is not very careful he may inadvertantly rebrand all of the protesters as “freedom fighters, when he starts calling them all terrorists.  

The international community has absolutely NO use for honest reporting on these Imperial subjects, but the people are NOT blind to the fact that the weapon of “democratic-revolution,” which Erdogan has so eagerly helped the Evil Empire to deploy against Bashar Assad, has now been turned upon Erdogan himself.  Zbigniew Brzezinski was right, very SOON… It will also be unleashed upon Obama, too.

I pray to God that I might be worthy of seeing that joyous day arise very soon.]

Police to consider protesters in Istanbul’s Taksim Square terror organization members: Minister

hurriyet

ISTANBUL

Egemen Bağış has been very critical of foreign media reports of the ongoing protests in Turkey. DHA photo

Egemen Bağış has been very critical of foreign media reports of the ongoing protests in Turkey. DHA photo

Everyone who enters Istanbul’s Taksim Square, the heart of nearly 20-day-long protests against the government, will be considered a member or a supporter of a terrorist organization, Turkey’s European Union minister said in a televised interview late last night.

“I request our citizens who supported the protests until today kindly to return to their homes,” Egemen Bağış said in an interview on broadcaster A Haber.

“From now on the state will unfortunately have to consider everyone who remains there a supporter or member of a terror organization,” he said. “Our prime minister has already assured [activists] about their aim with the protests. The protests from now on will play into the hands of some separatist organizations that want to break the peace and prioritize vandalism and terrorism.”

High-ranking Turkish officials have been posting warnings on the issue and everyone should act in a sensitive manner, he said.

Clashes between the police and protesters in Istanbul continued around the square along with some other parts of the city until this morning.

Bağış repeated his criticism of foreign media for exaggerating the protests in Turkey.

“Unfortunately, the foreign press has made a big mistake on this issue,” he said, saying that they wanted to reflect Turkey as a country where life has halted.

“Hours-long broadcasting that is even not interrupted by commercials has damaged Turkey’s image,” he said.

“But these long broadcasts surely have a financial reason, and this will be revealed. International channels such as BBC and CNN never do such broadcasting without any advertisement. Somebody somehow financed these broadcasts. Like our prime minister said, the losses of the interest rate lobby due to low interest rates have exceeded $650 billion in Turkey,” he said, adding that this was a result of the government’s dedication. “This drives them crazy and they are doing everything to disturb the calm in our country and win back their losses.”

Saudi Stocks Take A Hit In Reaction To Riyadh’s Illegal War In Syria

Saudi stocks plunge to 13-month low

 

SaudiGazette

Saudi Gazette report
RIYADH – Saudi Arabia’s stock market plunged 4.32 percent to a 13-month low on Saturday, closing at 7,294.38, with its biggest listed companies losing value.

Only one of the 156 companies listed on the Tadawul All-Share Index, the food-manufacturer Herfy, gained ground. All 155 others fell. Al Rajhi Bank, the largest Saudi lender by market value, fell the most since March, while Etihad Etisalat Co. (EEC), known as Mobily, slid the most since November 2012.

Saudi Basic Industries Corp. (Sabic), the world’s biggest petrochemical maker, fell to the lowest level since May 19.

Al Rajhi slid 4.2 percent to SR69, while Mobily lost 4.4 percent to 76.75 riyals. Sabic dropped 4 percent to 90 riyals.

“The Saudi market is being pressured today mainly due to the escalating geopolitical tensions in the region,” Turki Fadaak, head of research and consultancy at Albilad Investment Co., was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.

US crude hit a nine-month intraday high on Friday, after news that the United States had authorized sending weapons to Syrian rebels led to concerns about Middle East supplies.

US stocks fell on Friday on low volume to end their third negative week in four on lingering concern over whether the world’s central banks will soon start to trim their stimulus programs.

Pakistan’s Taliban Terrorists Prove Their Wahhabi Credentials By Bombing Father of Pakistan’s House

  pakistan-ziarat-Residency-Quaid-i-Azam-Mohammad-Ali-Jinnah-360

[It is typical Wahhabi terrorism against revered and symbolic targets, in their attempts to cover-up the truth about their pretend substitute for “True Islam.”  They cannot enforce their terrorist “Shariah” if the people know real Islam, this is why they blow-up monuments and mosques, and dig-up markers at cemetaries.  They want to destroy Islam by burying it under piles of Saudi dung.  In Saudi Arabia itself they bury history with development projects, the dozers and diggers work overtime to destroy revered relics, in order to cover them with a new history.]

Militants destroy Jinnah’s historic residence in Pakistan

times of india

PTI

Militants destroy Jinnah's historic residence in Pakistan
The militants targeted the Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat, a holiday resort located about 120km from the provincial capital of Quetta.

ISLAMABAD: Militants on Saturday attacked a historic 121-year-old building in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province that was used by the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah, killing a policeman and causing extensive damage to the structure.

The militants targeted the Quaid-e-Azam residency in Ziarat, a holiday resort located about 120km from the provincial capital of Quetta, at 1.15am.

They planted and set off four bombs and then opened fire. The explosions and gunfire triggered a blaze that was extinguished after four hours.

A policeman was killed in the shooting, police officials said. The wooden parts of the building, furniture and memorabilia associated with Jinnah were destroyed by the fire.

Footage on television showed that the roof of the building had collapsed and only its structure made of bricks was left intact.

District police chief Asghar Ali said a bomb disposal squad had found and defused six more bombs, each containing about three kilograms of explosives.

He said it took longer than expected for the fire to be controlled as there are no fire tenders in Ziarat. A fire tender sent from Quetta was used to put out the blaze.

Security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation though they were unable to trace the attackers.

The residency, built in 1892, was originally used as the summer residence of the agent of the British Governor General.

Jinnah spent the last days of his life in the building while suffering from tuberculosis and the structure was later declared a national monument.

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.

Erdogan Now Where Assad Was On January 26, 2011

[Erdogan is now precisely where Bashar al-Assad was on 26 January 2011, the day protests began across Syria.  We will see how serious the Turks are compared to the Syrians.  Will some of them now take-up arms as they did at this point in Syria?]

Erdogan’s sneer is clear to see

Joan Smith

Turkey’s prime minister addressing supporters last week

In the early hours of Friday morning, the Turkish government pulled back from the brink. After making apocalyptic noises about a “final” confrontation with protesters who had occupied an Istanbul park, the prime minister suddenly offered talks. With five dead and 5,000 injured, Recep Tayyip Erdogan agreed to suspend plans to turn part of Gezi park into a shopping mall until a court challenge is heard, defusing an alarming situation which had prompted condemnation of his government’s tactics in the European Parliament.

This is far from marking the end of Erdogan’s problems, however. What began as a protest in defence of one of Istanbul’s few green spaces became a focus for anger against a government which has become nakedly authoritarian. Journalists have been in the frontline, and, last year, more than a fifth of the world’s imprisoned journalists were in Turkish jails. But when the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, raised the jailing of journalists at a joint press conference earlier this year, Erdogan snapped that only a handful had been arrested. “They are not imprisoned for their journalistic work,” he said, accusing them of plotting a coup, having illegal arms or working for terrorist groups.

The rhetoric is typical of a politician who habitually sneers at legitimate expressions of disagreement; his language is inflammatory, verging on paranoid. He has compared abortions with air strikes on civilians, describing them as “a sneaky plan to wipe the country off the world stage”. He’s even enraged by Caesarean sections. He says every woman should have at least three and preferably five children, plays down Turkey’s huge domestic violence problem, and dismisses evidence of a 14-fold rise in “honour” killings between 2002 and 2009.

But cities such as Ankara and Istanbul have substantial populations of modern, educated men and women who are robust in defence of their rights. Millions believe that Erdogan imposes his religious views in a way that far exceeds his democratic mandate. They point to new laws banning the sale of alcohol within 100 yards of a mosque, a prohibition all the more effective because 17,000 new mosques have been built during Erdogan’s premiership. They don’t like his promise to “raise a religious youth”, especially after an official from his AK party tweeted recently that atheists “should be annihilated”.

In the modern world, there is a limit to how much of this stuff reasonable people will tolerate. In the past couple of weeks, Turkey’s profoundly intolerant prime minister has discovered the limits of trying to govern without consent.

politicalblonde.com