Tag Archives: Turkish

The Czar vs. the Sultan

Putin and Erdogan see themselves as heirs to proud empires. But fighter jets and tough talk can’t mask imperial decline.

BY JULIA IOFFE

Before Crimea was Russian, or Ukrainian, or even Soviet, it was Turkish. Well, Ottoman. And Russia had already annexed Crimea once before 2014, long before — in 1783. This was after a six-year war with the Turks, in which the Russians essentially wiped out the Ottoman navy. The conflict ended with the Treaty of Kainardrji, signed in 1774, which has come to be seen by historians as the first partition of the Ottoman Empire, the beginning of its long, slow decline. In losing Crimea to Russia, the Ottoman Empire, for the first time ever, lost Muslim subjects to a Christian power. (The Crimean Tatars, who have been especially opposed to Moscow’s newest takeover of the peninsula, are the vestigial limb left behind by the Ottomans, bucking again at its new Russian owner — which has, in turn,cracked down on them.) That war and the treaty that ended it, Bernard Lewis wrote some 200 years later, was “the turning point in the relations between Europe and the Middle East.”

Read more » Foreign Policy
See more » http://foreignpolicy.com/2015/11/25/the-czar-vs-the-sultan-turkey-russia-putin-erdogan-syria-jet-shootdown/?utm_content=buffer210ac&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

The Turkish provocation: Will it lead to War?

Written by Alan Woods

This morning the Turkish military shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria. It is unclear so far whether it was ground fire or Turkish jets that brought down the Russian plane. But that is a mere detail. What is quite clear is that this was a blatant provocation by the Turkish ruling clique.

Turkish military officials claimed that Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after “repeatedly warning” its pilots that they were “violating Turkish airspace”. Russia’s defence ministry said an Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory after being hit by fire from the ground, and that its pilots had managed to eject. Russia insists that its warplane did not violate Turkish airspace. The ministry stressed that “throughout its flight, the aircraft remained exclusively above Syrian territory”, adding: “Objective monitoring data shows it.” The fact is that video footage showed the plane crashing into mountains in Latakia province – that is, inside Syria. The pilots also landed inside Syrian territory. Even the Turkish radar imagery seems to confirm that the plane was shot down over Syrian airspace.

Was it an accident?

Was this a case of a mistake on the part of the Russian pilot? Was the navigation system defective? Such explanations are of course possible. But the first question must be asked is about the readiness of the Turks to open fire. The skies over Syria have got rather crowded lately, with the risk of collisions or other accidents ever present. This is exactly the kind of incident that many have feared since Russia launched its air operations in Syria.

The dangers of operating near to the Turkish border have been all too apparent. It is well known that arrangements to avoid incidents between warplanes over Syria have been made. Why were they ineffective? The bringing down of a Russian plane was a very serious step that could not be taken without express permission from the highest level – that is, from the Turkish President himself. We should point out that Turkish planes have already shot down at least one Syrian air force jet and possibly a helicopter as well earlier on in the civil war.

The Turkish authorities may claim that the arrangements to avoid clashes in the air do not cover the approaches to their “own airspace”. But what exactly constitutes their “own airspace”? The Turkish government claims that the Turkmens who inhabit an area of Syria adjacent to the Turkish border have always been under their “protection”. This assertion gives the game away straight away.

Erdogan’s regional ambitions are well known. He wishes to re-establish something resembling the old Ottoman Empire, bringing large parts of Central Asia and the Middle East under Turkish control. In order to further this ambition he attempts to use the Turkic-speaking peoples like the Turkmens for his own cynical purposes, just as Russian tsarism used the South Slavs in the past as the pawns of an expansionist foreign policy.

It is also an open secret that Erdogan has been supporting ISIS and other Islamist gangs in an attempt to overthrow President Assad and grab slices of Syrian territory. That is why he has allowed a large number of Islamist fighters to cross the Turkish border and join ISIS in Syria, while blocking the supply of arms and volunteers to the anti-ISIS forces in Syria and brutally crushing the Kurds who are fighting ISIS.

And all the while the West has been turning a blind eye to the fact that the Turks – along with the Saudi and Qatari gangsters – have been supporting, arming and financing the Jihadis in Syria – including ISIS. But lately all that has changed.

Read more » http://www.marxist.com/the-turkish-provocation-will-it-lead-to-war.htm

Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

Secularizing theocracy

By Waseem Altaf

Excerpt: …. Why is it that Turkey progressed and Pakistan regressed?

When in 1928 the Turkish Parliament was opting for a secular state and the constitutional provision declaring Islam as the state religion was being deleted, 21 years down the road in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was passing the Objectives Resolution, moved by Liaqat Ali Khan, the Prime Minister, proclaiming that the future constitution of Pakistan would be modeled on the ideology and faith in Islam. In the 1973 constitution Islam was declared as the state religion.

When in the 1920’s sovereignty of the people was being established in Turkey replacing the sovereignty of the Caliph, in 1949 Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly was bestowing sovereignty upon Allah.

When in the 1920’s the Turkish Parliament was adopting time-tested European models to reconstruct their civil, commercial and penal law, Pakistan’s 1973 constitution envisaged that ‘All existing laws shall be brought in conformity with the Injunctions of Islam as laid down in the Quran and Sunnah.’

Read more » Facebook
Read full article » https://www.facebook.com/irfanafridikk/posts/700511826634235

Guest post: Enter the Turkish Winter?

This is a guest post by Burak Kadercan, a Lecturer in the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Reading.

***

What is happening in Turkey?

This is the question that many around the globe have been asking for a week. To be fair, people were already interested in Turkey before protests broke out on May 28th, but their curiosity was directed more at its miracles. In the past decade, Turkey has become known as the “model” country for the rest of the Muslim world, proving — almost single-handedly — that political Islam and democracy can co-exist. According to all dimensions of power, Turkey has also been on the rise. Its economy is growing while much of the world struggles with recession. Its voice is being heard and consulted in the regional politics of the Middle East as well as global affairs. Turkey also projects a peculiar sort of soft-power across Eurasia and the Middle East through its popular TV dramas and movies. While it might have been “news” for Turkey to show up on global media in some shape or form 15 years ago, Turkey and its leader, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, have now become staples of the global media.

The rising profile of Turkey cannot be exaggerated. When I moved from Istanbul to the so-called Western world more than 10 years ago, people were asking me if Istanbul was its capital. Until last week, they were asking what I thought of the latest episode of Muhtesem Yüzyil — a royal soap opera about Ottoman Empire’s most glorious century (it was the sixteenth) that is broadcast in dozens of countries — or advice for where to eat in Istanbul next time they visit. Now, people keep asking me a different question: what is happening?

“What is happening?” is in fact the wrong question, for something has been happening in Turkey for quite some time. What the world has come to see lately is not the problem, but its symptoms. The symptoms are the country-wide protests and accompanying police brutality, which itself has come to be defined in terms of tear gas (or, simply “gas” in the Turkish lexicon). The chain of events, as any international media outlet can tell you (Turkish media have been playing dead until very recently), started with a handful of peaceful protestors comprised largely of environmentalists and university students occupying Gezi Parki, a relatively small park that is situated right by the Taksim Square, which is not only the financial and cultural epicentre of the city, but also the witness of and meeting place for many mass protests.

Gezi Parki was set to be demolished so that an Ottoman-era barracks that itself had been destroyed in 1940s could be reconstructed (alongside a hyper-mall, hotels, and possibly a mega-mosque) in its place (to be sure, the barracks came before the park). The initial protestors were not political, as the term is used in the Turkish context. They were not criticizing the government per se, but a particular decision that they thought not only would destroy the only green space left in the center of the city, but also was forced on the city without proper dialogue and consultation with its inhabitants. Just a few days before the incident broke out, Erdogan had delivered the final words: “we have made the decision.” This was not the first time that Erdogan used these words when sealing the deal over a contentious issue.

On May 28th, the police forces responded to occupiers with their signature method: gas. In an interesting twist — interesting for Turkish politics at least — the occupiers found extensive support from thousands, who responded not only to the destruction of Gezi Parki, but also, and even more so, to the unprovoked police brutality that has become the norm and not the exception in the last couple of years. Increasing intensity of the “gas bombardment” to disperse the demonstrators, whose numbers were growing exponentially, then triggered a chain reaction. Before anyone knew it, tens of thousands of citizens across the country took to the streets in order to show support for the demonstrators in Taksim. This was most certainly a spontaneous incident. The national news channels had embarrassingly turned a blind eye to what had been happening in the streets, and the protestors coordinated their efforts mainly through Facebook and Twitter.

So, who are the protestors? It is easier to identify them by highlighting who they are not. They are not a homogenous group (not by a long shot). They are not bound by religious beliefs, ethnicity, or even political leanings. What unites them is their anger at AKP, but even more so, at Erdogan. Erdogan, in turn, has done little in the way of calming the demonstrators and defusing the situation. If anything, he called the protestors “looters,” framed the protests in “ideological” terms, blamed the left-wing opposition party for taking part in what he presented as yet another scheme to illegally topple AKP, and in a most alarming turn announced that he and his party were “barely restraining” the so-called “fifty per cent” (which stands for AKP voters per 2011 elections). In an even more frightening and explicit note, Erdogan suggested that if the opposition brings “one hundred thousand” demonstrators to the streets, he can easily summon “one million” to counter them.

Continue reading Guest post: Enter the Turkish Winter?

Why Turks are fighting to take back Istanbul

By David Kenner

When Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan gave a speech in Washington two weeks ago, he didn’t dwell on the crisis in Syria or the Middle East peace process. Instead, he wanted to talk about a construction project: His government had recently inked a $29 billion deal to build Istanbul’s third airport. It would be able to handle 100 million passengers a year, he boasted, potentially making it the largest in the world.

“Turkey’s not talking about the world now,” Erdogan told the Brookings Institution, while an entourage of businessmen who made the trip with him to Washington looked on. “The world is talking about Turkey.”

Listening to the Turkish premier, you never would have guessed that environmentalists had long bemoaned the ecological costs of the project, while urban planners worried that it could make the city’s already severe traffic problem even worse.

Turkey’s runaway economic growth, while undeniably impressive, also helps explain why citizens erupted in protest throughout the country this weekend. The spark for the demonstrations, which police tried to put down with massive tear gas use, was the local government’s decision to turn Gezi Park — a rare oasis of green in the center of Istanbul — into a replica of an Ottoman-era barracks and a shopping mall. The Taksim Platform, a group of local citizens, had long called for revisions to the project to accommodate residents. But until the demonstrations on Friday, officials in Erdogan’s party had pushed forward the project by decree, with little public discussion of their plans.

It’s an old story in Turkey. A five-minute walk from Gezi Park lies Tarlabasi, a working class neighborhood that has long been home to those who live on the city’s margins – a century ago, it was Greek, Jewish, and Armenian craftsmen; today, it is members of the Kurdish minority who migrated there to escape the bloody insurgency in Turkey’s southeast. True to form, Erdogan’s government soon stepped in to build a better Tarlabasi: As Piotr Zalewski wrote for FP, it used an eminent domain law to lay claim to much of the area, empowering a private development company to transform it into an upscale neighborhood of luxury apartment buildings and shopping malls. While Tarlabasi was declared an “urban renewal area” in 2006, residents did not learn about the planned demolition of their houses until 2008.

Continue reading Why Turks are fighting to take back Istanbul

Amnesty International calls for action in Turkey as reports of alleged police brutality continue

Rights group calls for drastic action in Turkey

Urgent steps must be taken by the Turkish authorities to prevent further deaths and injuries and allow protestors access to their fundamental rights , as well as ensuring the security of all members of the public, Amnesty International said.

Amnesty International kept its office, which is close to the Taksim area, open as a safe haven for protestors escaping police violence throughout the night. 20 doctors are currently in the office and treating injured protestors. Other civil society organisations have taken similar actions.

“Excessive use of force by police officers can be routine in Turkey but the excessively heavy-handed response to the entirely peaceful protests in Taksim has been truly disgraceful. It has hugely inflamed the situation on the streets of Istanbul where scores of people have been injured,” said John Dalhusien, Director of Amnesty International for Europe.

Amnesty International observers at the protests witnessed the use of water cannon against peaceful protestors as well as those throwing stones at police.

The human rights group also said it had received information that injured demonstrators in detention and on the streets have been prevented from accessing appropriate medical care.

“The Turkish authorities must allow peaceful protest to proceed, urgently revise police tactics and investigate – and hold accountable – those responsible for the abuses we are seeing,” said Dalhusien. [Amnesty International]

Courtesy: Aljazeera
http://blogs.aljazeera.com/topic/turkey-elections/rights-group-calls-drastic-action-turkey

Via Twitter

What we can learn from Turkey

Smokers’ Corner: Cold Turkey

By Nadeem F. Paracha

I’ve twice been to Turkey in the last three years. My second trip there coincided with the 2011 election. Recently I have come across various conservative and pro-establishment personalities, politicians and media men in Pakistan praising the Turkish model of democracy and economics.

For example, Imran Khan just returned from Turkey and sounded extremely impressed by that country’s people and politics.

The reason why you might now be hearing more and more Pakistanis singing praises of Turkey is due to the fact that a determined political party with an Islamist background has been winning elections and forming governments there ever since 2001.

It is a good sign that to some of our conservatives the Turkish social and political model now seems more charming to emulate than the puritanical authoritarianism of certain oil-rich Arab states. However, the fact is they may really be over-romanticising their Turkish experience. Either they haven’t understood the dynamics of Turkey’s political and social milieus, or they are only seeing what they want to see: i.e. a conservative Islamist party at the helm in what was supposed to be a secular country.

Only recently I heard a TV commentator suggest that Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan’s AK Party, has been winning elections due to its popularity among the rural and semi-rural Turks. This is a rather simplistic understanding of what is actually a complex consensus that the AK Party has struck with almost all sections of Turkish society.

Erdogan’s multiple electoral successes have more to do with his emphasis on economic growth, reform and his all-out efforts to help Turkey become part of the European Union (EU) than on the usual stern moralistic and anti-West stances that most Islamist parties are stuck with in most Muslim countries. During my trip to Istanbul when the campaigning for the 2011 elections was in full swing, not even once did I hear Erdogan (whose wife adorns a hijab) mention the word Islam.

Continue reading What we can learn from Turkey

Al-Qaida jihadi terrorists (Turkish & 2 central Asians) who trained in Pakistan, busted in Spain

‘Al-Qaeda trio’ arrested in southern Spanish towns

The arrests were made as part of one of the largest international operations to date against al-Qaeda, the Spanish Interior Minister said

Police have arrested three suspected al-Qaeda members in southern Spain.

Explosive material was seized at an address in San Roque where a Turkish man was arrested. Two other men were held near Almuradiel.

They are thought to have been planning an attack in Spain or elsewhere in Europe, according to the Spanish Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz.

The arrests are part of one the biggest international operations to date against al-Qaeda, Mr Diaz said.

Continue reading Al-Qaida jihadi terrorists (Turkish & 2 central Asians) who trained in Pakistan, busted in Spain

Hell and al-Qaida descend on Syria

By: Tarek Fatah

Who would have thought a Canadian mother of two would leave her children behind and join the international jihad unfolding in Syria?

Meet Thwaiba Kanafani. She left the comforts of her apartment in downtown Toronto, soon to appear in a YouTube video dressed in camouflaged battle gear, holding an automatic assault rifle, to declare: “I came from Canada to answer the call of my homeland” as the men surrounding her chanted “Allah O Akbar.”

Kanafani is not alone. A Dutch journalist who was kidnapped by rebels inside Syria, along with his British colleague, reports some of his abductors had “Birmingham accents,” while others were from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Chechnya, with no Syrians present.

Reports of non-Syrian jihadis have been confirmed by correspondents of both the Guardian and the New York Times who say foreign fighters under the banner of al-Qaida’s black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, “There is no god but God,” are taking a bigger role.

The jihadis are the best-funded and well-equipped of the groups fighting the Bashar al-Assad regime.

While the American-backed Syrian National Council (SNC) had its own share of U.S.-based Islamists pulling the strings, it is now clear these jihadis-in-suits will not be the ones determining the future of Syria when the doctor dictator is gone. Very soon, Damascus will get a taste of al-Qaida’s hatred of life and their yearning for death as they have demonstrated in the last couple of months.

In one attack by the al-Qaida fighters on the historic Damascus district of Zainabiya, the fighters made no effort to hide the al- Qaida flag. Some wore the black head bands while others wore the flags of Pakistan, Somalia, and other Muslim countries. They killed Shia residents and pilgrims as they tried to destroy the shrines of Prophet Muhammad’s granddaughter Hazrat Zainab and Ruqaiya. At least one Afghan family was slaughtered inside their home.

One al-Qaida commander inside Syria, Abu Khuder, had this to say about foreign jihadis: “In the beginning there were very few. Now, mashallah, there are immigrants joining us and bringing their experience … Men from Yemen, Saudi, Iraq and Jordan … (al-Qaida’s) goal is establishing an Islamic state and not a Syrian state.”

The role of America in Syria seems at best incompetent and disastrous.

However, evidence suggests there is a method in the madness of the Obama Administration. Instead of helping the democratic forces of Syria it has dilly-dallied on the sidelines until the Islamists managed to get an upper hand. The same cowardice was demonstrated when Iran’s democrats rose up in 2009.

One of the leaders of the Syrian al-Qaida is Abdelhakim Belhadj, a Libyan accomplice of Osama bin Laden who, according to former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar, was suspected of complicity in the 2004 Madrid train bombings.

Belhadj was arrested by the CIA, but then released under mysterious circumstances and returned to Libya where he facilitated the U.S.-NATO overthrowing of Col. Moammar Gahdafi.

Now the same Libyan ally of NATO has been parachuted inside Syria with the help of the Turkish government.

Reportedly, 15,000 Syrians have given their lives to fight a dictator, and Belhadj’s presence in the war-torn country could make it a hell on earth.

Courtesy: Toronto Sun

http://www.torontosun.com/2012/07/31/hell-and-al-qaida-descend-on-syria

Via – Twitter

Turkish forces kill 15 female Kurdish rebels

Turkish security forces have killed 15 female rebel Kurds in the southeast of the country on Saturday, AFP cites the country’s interior ministry as saying. One member of a local group fighting alongside Turkish security forces was killed in the clashes, while three more were wounded. The female rebels belonged to a women-only unit of the separatist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK). The operation follows a large-scale offensive against PKK militants near the Iraqi border that left seven police officers and six rebels dead.

Courtesy: http://www.rt.com/news/line/2012-03-24/#id28470

Turkey’s former military chief arrested over alleged anti-government plot

By Associated Press

ISTANBUL — A former Turkish military chief suspected of leading an Internet campaign to stir revolt was jailed Friday in a sweeping investigation of alleged conspiracies to topple a civilian government that has stripped the armed forces of political clout.

Gen. Ilker Basbug, 68, was the most senior officer to face trial in the anti-terror probes that began years ago, netting hundreds of suspects, many of them retired and active-duty military officers. The government casts the inquiries as a triumph for the rule of law and democracy, but suspicions of score-settling, long imprisonments without verdicts and other lapses have tainted the legal process.

The investigations serve as a pivotal test for Turkey’s ability to put its own house in order even as it seeks a higher profile in a turbulent region where the Turkish brand of electoral politics and Islam-inspired government is viewed by some as worthy of emulation.

Perhaps most notable about Basbug’s arrest was the muted public response in a country where civilian leaders were once beholden to the generals, and any hint of conflict stirred fears of a coup. The power balance shifted in the past decade as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan undermined the premise that the military brass were the untouchable guardians of secularism, as enshrined in the constitution. …

Read more » The Washington Post

Turkey takes over the Arab Spring

– By Pepe Escobar

Finally. Crystal clear. Someone finally said it – what the whole world, except Washington and Tel Aviv, knows in its collective heart; the recognition of a Palestinian state is “not an option but an obligation”.

It did wonders that the man who said it was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in Cairo, at the Arab League, in front of all Arab foreign ministers and with virtually the whole Arab world glued to satellite networks scrutinizing his every word.

The current Erdogan Arab Spring tour – as it was billed by the Turkish press – comprising Egypt, Tunisia and Libya, has already rocketed him to the status of a geopolitical cross between U2’s Bono and Barcelona’s superstar Argentine footballer Lionel Messi.

Erdogan received a rock/soccer star welcome at Cairo’s airport – complete with “Hero Erdogan” banners brandished by the Muslim Brotherhood. He even addressed the crowd in Arabic (from “Greetings to the Egyptian youth and people, how are you?” to “Peace be upon you”).

Erdogan repeatedly stressed, “Egypt and Turkey are hand-in-hand.” But it’s the subtext that is even more incendiary. While Israel’s former good friends Egypt and Turkey are now hand-in-hand, Israel is left isolated facing a wall. There could not be a more earth-shattering development in the Levant – unheard of since the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1978.

A model campaigner

Erdogan’s tour is a realpolitik master class. He’s positioning Turkey as the forefront supporter of the Palestinian cause. He’s also positioning Turkey at the core of the Arab Spring – as a supporter and as an inspirational model, even though there have been no full-fledged revolutions so far. He’s emphasizing solid Turkish-Arab unity – for instance planning a strategic cooperation council between Egypt and Turkey.

Plus the whole thing makes good business sense. Erdogan’s caravan includes six ministers and nearly 200 Turkish businessmen – bent on investing heavily all across northern Africa. In Egypt, they may not match the billions of dollars already committed by the House of Saud to the military junta led by Air Marshall Mohammed Tantawi. But in 2010, Turkish trade with the Middle East and North Africa was already at $30 billion, representing 27% of Turkish exports. Over 250 Turkish companies have already invested $1.5 billion in Egypt.

Crucially, Erdogan told Egyptian TV channel Dream, “Do not be wary of secularism. I hope there will be a secular state in Egypt.” Erdogan was subtly referring to Turkey’s secular constitution; and at the same time he was very careful to remind Egyptians that secularism is compatible with Islam.

The current Turkish model is enormously popular among the Egyptian street, featuring a moderate Islamic party (the Justice and Development Party – AKP) in power; a secular constitution; the military – albeit strong – back in the barracks; and an ongoing economic boom (Turkey was the world’s fastest growing economy in the first half of 2001). [1]

This model is not exactly what the regressive House of Saud wants. They would prefer a heavily Islamist government controlled by the most conservative factions of the Muslim Brotherhood. Worse; as far as Libya is concerned, the House of Saud would love to have a friendly emirate, or at least a government peppered with Islamic fundamentalists.

Erdogan also stressed that the “aggressiveness” of Israel “threatens the future of the Israeli people”. That’s music for the Arab street. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Erdogan in Cairo – and confirmed he’ll go ahead with Palestine’s bid to be fully recognized as a state by the United Nations Security Council later this month. ….

Read more → Asia Times

Turkish warships to escort any Gaza aid vessels: Erdogan

CAIRO: Turkey said on Thursday it would escort aid ships to Gaza and would not allow a repetition of last year’s Israeli raid that killed nine Turks, setting the stage for a potential naval confrontation with its former ally.

Raising the stakes in Turkey’s row with Israel over its refusal to apologise for the killings, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told Al Jazeera television that Turkey had taken steps to stop Israel from unilaterally exploiting natural resources in the Mediterranean.

“Turkish warships, in the first place, are authorised to protect our ships that carry humanitarian aid to Gaza,” Erdogan said in the interview, broadcast by Al Jazeera with an Arabic translation.

“From now on, we will not let these ships to be attacked by Israel, as what happened with the Freedom Flotilla,” Erdogan said.

Referring to Erdogan’s comments, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said: “This is a statement well-worth not commenting on.”

Relations between Turkey and Israel, two close US allies in the region, have soured since Israeli forces boarded the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara aid ship in May 2010.

Ankara downgraded ties and vowed to boost naval patrols in the eastern Mediterranean in the escalating row. …

Read more → DAWN.COM

Turkey’s military chiefs forced to ‘quit’

Turkey’s military chiefs ‘quit’

New Turkish land force chief appointed after Isik Kosaner and top commanders quit over rift with government.

General Isik Kosaner, the head of the Turkish armed forces, has quit along with the heads of the ground, naval and air forces.

The country’s state-run Anatolia news agency said on Friday that the military chiefs wanted to retire because of tensions with Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the recently re-elected prime minister. Anatolia reported Kosaner as resigning “as he saw it as necessary” ….

Read more → aljazeera

More details → BBC urdu

Robert Fisk

Robert Fisk: The destiny of this pageant lies in the Kingdom of Oil

The Middle East earthquake of the past five weeks has been the most tumultuous, shattering, mind-numbing experience in the history of the region since the fall of the Ottoman empire. For once, “shock and awe” was the right description.

The docile, supine, unregenerative, cringing Arabs of Orientalism have transformed themselves into fighters for the freedom, liberty and dignity which we Westerners have always assumed it was our unique role to play in the world. One after another, our satraps are falling, and the people we paid them to control are making their own history – our right to meddle in their affairs (which we will, of course, continue to exercise) has been diminished for ever.

The tectonic plates continue to shift, with tragic, brave – even blackly humorous – results. Countless are the Arab potentates who always claimed they wanted democracy in the Middle East. King Bashar of Syria is to improve public servants’ pay. King Bouteflika of Algeria has suddenly abandoned the country’s state of emergency. King Hamad of Bahrain has opened the doors of his prisons. King Bashir of Sudan will not stand for president again. King Abdullah of Jordan is studying the idea of a constitutional monarchy. And al-Qa’ida are, well, rather silent.

Who would have believed that the old man in the cave would suddenly have to step outside, dazzled, blinded by the sunlight of freedom rather than the Manichean darkness to which his eyes had become accustomed. Martyrs there were aplenty across the Muslim world – but not an Islamist banner to be seen. The young men and women bringing an end to their torment of dictators were mostly Muslims, but the human spirit was greater than the desire for death. They are Believers, yes – but they got there first, toppling Mubarak while Bin Laden’s henchmen still called for his overthrow on outdated videotapes.

But now a warning. It’s not over. We are experiencing today that warm, slightly clammy feeling before the thunder and lightning break out. Gaddafi’s final horror movie has yet to end, albeit with that terrible mix of farce and blood to which we are accustomed in the Middle East. And his impending doom is, needless to say, throwing into ever-sharper perspective the vile fawning of our own potentates. Berlusconi – who in many respects is already a ghastly mockery of Gaddafi himself – and Sarkozy, and Lord Blair of Isfahan are turning out to look even shabbier than we believed. Those faith-based eyes blessed Gaddafi the murderer. I did write at the time that Blair and Straw had forgotten the “whoops” factor, the reality that this weird light bulb was absolutely bonkers and would undoubtedly perform some other terrible act to shame our masters. And sure enough, every journalist is now going to have to add “Mr Blair’s office did not return our call” to his laptop keyboard.

Everyone is now telling Egypt to follow the “Turkish model” – this seems to involve a pleasant cocktail of democracy and carefully controlled Islam. But if this is true, Egypt’s army will keep an unwanted, undemocratic eye on its people for decades to come. As lawyer Ali Ezzatyar has pointed out, “Egypt’s military leaders have spoken of threats to the “Egyptian way of life”… in a not so subtle reference to threats from the Muslim Brotherhood. This can be seen as a page taken from the Turkish playbook.” The Turkish army turned up as kingmakers four times in modern Turkish history. And who but the Egyptian army, makers of Nasser, constructors of Sadat, got rid of the ex-army general Mubarak when the game was up?

And democracy – the real, unfettered, flawed but brilliant version which we in the West have so far lovingly (and rightly) cultivated for ourselves – is not going, in the Arab world, to rest happy with Israel’s pernicious treatment of Palestinians and its land theft in the West Bank. Now no longer the “only democracy in the Middle East”, Israel argued desperately – in company with Saudi Arabia, for heaven’s sake – that it was necessary to maintain Mubarak’s tyranny. It pressed the Muslim Brotherhood button in Washington and built up the usual Israeli lobby fear quotient to push Obama and La Clinton off the rails yet again. Faced with pro-democracy protesters in the lands of oppression, they duly went on backing the oppressors until it was too late. I love “orderly transition”. The “order” bit says it all. Only Israeli journalist Gideon Levy got it right. “We should be saying ‘Mabrouk Misr!’,” he said. Congratulations, Egypt!

Yet in Bahrain, I had a depressing experience. King Hamad and Crown Prince Salman have been bowing to their 70 per cent (80 per cent?) Shia population, opening prison doors, promising constitutional reforms. So I asked a government official in Manama if this was really possible. Why not have an elected prime minister instead of a member of the Khalifa royal family? He clucked his tongue. “Impossible,” he said. “The GCC would never permit this.” For GCC – the Gulf Co-operation Council – read Saudi Arabia. And here, I am afraid, our tale grows darker.

We pay too little attention to this autocratic band of robber princes; we think they are archaic, illiterate in modern politics, wealthy (yes, “beyond the dreams of Croesus”, etc), and we laughed when King Abdullah offered to make up any fall in bailouts from Washington to the Mubarak regime, and we laugh now when the old king promises $36bn to his citizens to keep their mouths shut. But this is no laughing matter. The Arab revolt which finally threw the Ottomans out of the Arab world started in the deserts of Arabia, its tribesmen trusting Lawrence and McMahon and the rest of our gang. And from Arabia came Wahabism, the deep and inebriating potion – white foam on the top of the black stuff – whose ghastly simplicity appealed to every would-be Islamist and suicide bomber in the Sunni Muslim world. The Saudis fostered Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida and the Taliban. Let us not even mention that they provided most of the 9/11 bombers. And the Saudis will now believe they are the only Muslims still in arms against the brightening world. I have an unhappy suspicion that the destiny of this pageant of Middle East history unfolding before us will be decided in the kingdom of oil, holy places and corruption. Watch out. ….

Read more : The Independent.co.uk

British PM calls Gaza ‘prison camp’

ANKARA : British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday urged Israel to lift the blockade of the Gaza Strip, slamming the current state of the Palestinian enclave as a “prison camp”.

“Let me be clear that the situation in Gaza has to change … Gaza cannot and must not be allowed to remain a prison camp,” he said in a speech to a business association during a visit to Turkey.

Speaking later after talks with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Cameron defended his description, saying that “even though some progress has been made, we’re still in a situation where it’s very difficult to get in, it’s very difficult to get out … “We’ve long supported lifting the blockade of Gaza,” he said.

Read more >> Mail&Gardian

Ex-Mossad Officer Criticizes Israel’s Handling of Flotilla Raid with Alex Jones – Must watch all parts

Ex-Mossad Officer Victor Ostrovsky Criticizes Israel’s Handling of Flotilla Raid with Alex Jones

Source – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Itk02YXuAZM&feature=player_embedded

via – http://www.siasat.pk/forum/showthread.php?36986-Ex-Mossad-Agent-Victor-Ostrovsky-Criticizes-Israel-s-Handling-of-Flotilla-Raid-on-Alex-Jones