And the “ceasefire” continuous.
“Al-Arabiya: Friday’s death toll in Syria rises to 45 people, activists say” (April 20)
Five, yeap you read right, five UN observers today made a BRIEF visit toHoms.
UN monitors visit Syria opposition stronghold
“But the situation was relatively calm as the five observers toured rebel-held areas in Homson Saturday. Activists said fighting and government shelling stopped and troops hid tanks in advance of the visit by U.N. cease-fire observers, their first to the city.”
“In the Jouret el-Shayah neighborhood of Homs, the observers were quickly thronged by residents who chanted, ”The people want military intervention,” according to video broadcast on the Al-Jazeera satellite TV station.
In amateur video from the same neighborhood, posted online Saturday, observers are seen walking silently through rubble-strewn deserted streets lined by heavily damaged apartment buildings.
A man in military uniform, apparently a rebel, pointed to the destruction, telling the team that ”it’s all destroyed buildings.” Dozens of residents chanted, ”The people want to execute the president,” and ”Freedom forever, against your will, Assad.”
As reported before by HWR and others (se my post 2), rape is useed as a weapon by Assad’s forces.
Rape as a weapon in Syria
“On April 1, a Syrian doctor named Moussa al-Kurdi told Al-Jazeera that he received a report regarding the rape of two girls, aged 10 and 14, by government forces in southern Syria, which resulted in their being impregnated.
According to Kurdi, these two girls are part of a group of around 260 child refugees, boys and girls, whose parents were killed or arrested and who live in a hotel provided by a charity. Intelligence services in Syria prevented doctors from documenting the rapes and filing an official report about it. Kurdi said that the children are being threatened.
This story is a sample of the horrors committed against the Syrian people. For more than a year now, the Syrian regime has been fighting a war against its own people to regain control of the country. Rape may be the best means to destroy the morale of the enemy, not only in the present, but also for the future, as victims, especially those who became pregnant as a result of the rape, have to live with it for the rest of their lives, according to writer Hazem Saghiyeh. “
“However, according to a HRW researcher who did not want to be named because he is not authorized to speak on the subject, it has been confirmed that rape is being used as a method of torture against men and women in Syrian prisons. The researcher also mentioned reports of sexual assault against women when the army raids houses in search of wanted men or weapons. “
And the Iraqis have a problem:
Central Bank of Iraq: $10B Siphoned Off in Support of Iranian and Syrian Currencies
“The deputy governor of the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Mudhhir Mohammad Saleh, has revealed that Iraq’s foreign currency reserves, estimated at $54 billion, have declined by $10 billion since last November, and that the money was used by banks, money-changers and money-transfer companies in support of the Iranian and Syrian economies, which are subject to sanctions. He asserted that speculators have exploited the monetary crisis in the two neighboring countries to make a quick profit. The rush to buy dollars has caused the Iraqi dinar to lose 11% of its value against the dollar, despite considerable foreign currency reserves available to support it. “
Same old same old:
US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice wrote on Twitter April 18 that the “Syrian regime lied to the world, lied to its people & the biggest fabricator is Asad himself. Words are meaningless. Actions are what matter.”
Ok, after this “great” and “sudden” insight after more than a year keeping up appearance while Assad was killing unarmed civilians, what then??
Well, who could have guessed – MORE OF THE SAME! I.E. doing nothing.
“Ambassador Rice’s interview with CNN the other day. When asked the most pressing question – what next? – Rice replied that the “next step really is for those who have maximum influence on Assad to continue to use it,”
That is of course the very helpful Russians and Iranians. And if you have read any of my previous post, you know how “helpful” they have been. So this is the “great” Obama and Clinton plan – The two countries that has done the most to prop up and secure the Assad regime, with all means possible, are supposed to put “pressure on him???
Assad a “mafia bacteria”.
This is quite interesting. The people inside Syria has made some contacts withIsrael before. Like when the put the same message on the IDF Facebook site.
Syrian opposition leader, in unprecedented interview with Israel Radio, says Syrians want peace with Israel Speaking from Paris, Nofal Al-Dalawibi, son of a former Syrian PM, calls Assad a ‘mafia bacteria’ and says opposition will not negotiate with him
“In an unprecedented interview with Israel Radio, Nofal Al-Dalawibi, a Syrian opposition leader and son of former two-time Syrian prime minister Maarouf Al-Dalawibi, said that the Syrian people want peace, including with Israel, and seek stability after the ongoing bloodshed.
The interview comes against a background of decades of overt Syrian hostility to Israel, and shatters a taboo of Syrian representatives in any forum talking openly with Israelis. At international events, Syrian leaders have always sought to ensure that Israeli journalists are kept out of their press conferences, and ignored questions from Israeli reporters on the rare occasions when Israelis did manage to address them directly. Israeli journalists are never granted visas to enterSyria.”
”Dalawibi’s interview marked the potential beginning of a change from that mindset, should the Syrian opposition struggle prevail. When asked about the “fear that many Israelis have” that Islamic forces may occupy the political vacuum in Syria if Assad falls — and what effect that would have on Syria’s relationship with Israel — Dalawibi replied that the Syrian people do not want any more fighting. Syrian civilians have been left out of the political process for over 40 years and they only want peace, he added.
“Dalawibi also commented on the “long struggle” of the Syrian opposition. “We are not interested in negotiating with Assad,” Dalawibi told Zinger, and referred to the Syrian president as “mafia bacteria.”
Recep Erdogan and his Islamic AKP party have ruledTurkeysince 2002. Their slow, but gradual, islamization of Turkish society has progressed. AKP has very effectively neutralized all the secular parties and organisations.
Including the military which was supposed to be the last guarantee of Ataturks legacy – a civilian society with separation of mosque and state.
Erdogan was imprisoned in 1998 for his involvement with the banned Welfare Party, which the Turkish government considered Islamist. Soner Cagaptay of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy describes the Welfare Party as the “motherboard of Turkish Islamists since the 1980s,” saying it was inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood.
In 2001, he founded the AKP, which took a more moderate line, portraying itself as committed to separation of mosque and state but “faithful governance,” as Dr. Essam El-Erian, the chief of the Muslim Brotherhood’s political bureau, described the AKP’s “moderate Islamist” ideology.
Dr. El-Erian praised Erdogan’s victory, saying that it was the result of the “exposing of the failure of the secular trend.” El-Erian confirmed that the Muslim Brotherhood had close ties to the AKP, but the West treated Turkey as if nothing had changed. It wasn’t until Turkey steadfastly refused to allow U.S. soldiers to transit their territory to overthrow Saddam Hussein that the West began questioning the allegiance of Erdogan’s government.
As Erdogan said in the beginning of February this year, “We want to raise a religious youth”:
Erdogan resurrects debates of Islamization
“We want to raise a religious youth,” said Erdogan, himself a graduate of a clerical school and the leader of the Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP), during a parliamentary address last week.”
“Secular quarters argue Erdogan’s conservative government is also step by step imposing religion in every aspect of life, saying many restaurants already refuse to serve alcohol during Ramadan.”
“But since then the influence of the military, considered as guardian of secularism, has waned.
Dozens of retired and active army officers, academics, journalists and lawyers have been put behind bars in probes into alleged plots against Erdogan’s government.
Critics accuse the government of launching the probes as a tool to silence opponents and impose authoritarianism.
Secular quarters argue Erdogan’s conservative government is also step by step imposing religion in every aspect of life, saying many restaurants already refuse to serve alcohol during Ramadan.
They also criticize recent changes to legislation under which religious school graduates will now be able to access any university branch they like, while in the past they had only access to theology schools.
Birand expressed fears that the changes would not be confined to this and would lead to censorship in television broadcasts.
The Turkish television watchdog RTUK “will restrict all kissing scenes; they will confuse pornography with explicit broadcast and all television screens will be made pious,” he added.
“Then will come religious foundations. After them, it will be municipalities. All kinds of Koran teaching courses, legal or illegal, will mushroom.”
As Turkish Penal Code specifies, ”Anyone who openly denigrates the religious values of a part of the population shall be sentenced to imprisonment of from six months to one year, where the act is sufficient to breach public peace.”
In the referendum 2010 26 amendments where made to the constitution. One example: It now permits the parliament to select who sits on the Supreme Board of Prosecutors and Judges. Previously, the judiciary was independent, choosing its own leadership free of political influence. And since the AKP holds a majority in the parliament, its allows the party to oversee the judiciary without any significant checks and balances.
And a quote from Erdoğan:
Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan:
“The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers.”
Paul Auster refuses Turkey visit over jailed scribes
“Renowned U.S. author Paul Auster said he refused to visit Turkey because of the number of journalists and writers that have been jailed in the country.
Speaking to daily Hürriyet’s Buket Şahin, Auster said he had protested the Turkish and Chinese governments for their treatment of journalists.
“I refuse to come to Turkey because of imprisoned journalists and writers. How many are jailed now? Over 100?” Auster said, adding that Turkey was the country he was most worried about.“
Erdogan and the Decline of the Turks
When I asked the prime minister about stories alleging a U.S.-Israeli murder and organ selling scheme in Iraq, he could not bring himself to condemn them..
“To follow Turkish discourse in recent years has been to follow a national decline into madness.”
“For example, while there was much hand-wringing in our own media about ”Who lost Turkey?” when U.S. forces were denied entry to Iraq from the north in 2003, no such introspection was evident in Ankara and Istanbul. Instead, Turks were fed a steady diet of imagined atrocities perpetrated by U.S. forces in Iraq, often with the implication that they were acting as muscle for the Jews. The newspaper Yeni Safak, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s daily read, claimed that Americans were tossing so many Iraqi bodies into the Euphrates that local mullahs had issued a fatwa ordering residents not to eat the fish. The same paper repeatedly claimed that the U.S. used chemical weapons in Fallujah. And it reported that Israeli soldiers had been deployed alongside U.S. forces in Iraq and that U.S. forces were harvesting the innards of dead Iraqis for sale on the U.S. ”organ market.”
The secular Hurriyet newspaper, meanwhile, accused Israeli soldiers of assassinating Turkish security personnel in Mosul and said the U.S.was starting an occupation of (Muslim) Indonesia under the guise of humanitarian assistance. Then U.S. ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman actually felt the need to organize a conference call to explain to the Turkish media that secret U.S. nuclear testing did not cause the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. One of the craziest theories circulating in Ankara was that the U.S.was colonizing the Middle East because its scientists were aware of an impending asteroid strike on North America.
The Mosul and organ harvesting stories were soon brought together in a hit Turkish movie called ”Valley of the Wolves,” which I saw in 2006 at a mall in Ankara. My poor Turkish was little barrier to understanding. The body parts of dead Iraqis could be clearly seen being placed into crates marked New York and Tel Aviv. It is no exaggeration to say that such anti-Semitic fare had not been played to mass audiences in Europe since the Third Reich.
When I interviewed Prime Minister Erdogan (one of several encounters) in 2006, he was unabashed about the narrative.
Erdogan: ”I believe the people who made this movie took media reports as their basis . . . for example, Abu Ghraib prison—we have seen this on TV, and now we are watching Guantanamo Bay in the world media, and of course it could be that this movie was prepared under these influences.”
Me: ”But do you believe that many Turks have such a view ofAmerica, that we’re the kind of people who’d go to Iraq and kill people to take their organs?”
Erdogan: ”These kind of things happen in the world. If it’s not happening in Iraq, then its happening in other countries.”
Me: ”Which kind of things? Killing people to take their organs?”
Erdogan: ”I’m not saying they are being killed. . . . There are people in poverty who use this as a means to get money.”
I was somewhat taken aback that the prime minister could not bring himself to condemn a fictional blood libel. I should not have been. He and his party have traded on America and Israel hatred ever since. There can be little doubt the Turkish flotilla that challenged the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza was organized with his approval, if not encouragement. Mr. Erodogan’s foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, is a proponent of a philosophy which calls on Turkey to loosen Western ties to the U.S., NATO and the European Union and seek its own sphere of influence to the east. Turkey‘s recent deal to help Iran enrich uranium should come as no surprise.”
‘Muslims Don’t Cause Genocide, especially in Sudan:
Erdogan: Israel Worse than Sudan, ‘Muslims Don’t Cause Genocide’
Turkish PM Erdogan says he would rather talk to Sudanese leader al-Bashir than to Israeli PM Netanyahu, because “Muslims cannot commit genocide.”
“Erdogan claimed to know that Bashir is innocent, and that there is no genocide taking place in Sudan. “A Muslim can never commit genocide,” he said in explanation. “It’s not possible.”
The Turkish PM added that he had visited Darfur and did not see evidence of genocide during his trip.”
Much more can be said about AKP andTurkeybut that’s maybe for a later post.
So lets move on to Turkeysr elations with Syria, Iran and its foreign policy ambitions.
Yes, we are the New Ottomans
“SUMMARY: In a recent speech before the governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) retreat, Turkey‘s Foreign Minister Davutoglu appeared to embrace the concept of Neo-Ottomanism as a framework for Turkish foreign policy.”
“Twice yearly, AKP party leaders and members of parliament meet at Kizilcahamam for a consultative retreat to go over party policies and the state ofTurkeyin a relaxed, informal environment. At the most recent retreat, held November 21 and 22, FM Davutoglu co-opted his critics’ derisive term for his personalized foreign policy, saying,
”Yes, we are the New Ottomans.” In so doing, he made coherent the past six years of Turkish foreign policy, which has seen an intensive interest in being part of peace negotiations stretching from Bosnia through Palestine to Afghanistan, the opening of embassies throughout much of Africa, and rapprochement with previous rivals, such as Iran, Syria, andArmenia.
Davutoglu had previously hinted at such a policy in a speech made in Sarajevo on October 16, in which he envisioned an economically and culturally integrated Balkans and Middle East as the driver of a peaceful, affluent civilization, and not the crisis-ridden periphery it is perceived to be today. In his estimation, the Ottoman Empire is the ”only positive exception” to have created such an entity, and Turkey, as successor to the Ottoman state, should be the focus of the re-establishment of a strong Eastern Mediterranean.”
“Borrowing from Western rhetoric that Turkey is a bridge between the East and the West, Turkey is aspiring to broaden its horizons to include not just Europe but the
Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia in its strategic considerations as well. The policy also attempts to promote two popular trains of thought among conservative Turkish intellectuals: the concepts of a global Islamic solidarity (previously promoted by former Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan) and the concept of a Turkish-Islamist synthesis (popular in nationalist circles and also among members of the Fethullah Gulen religious community).
AKP’s domestic detractors, however, see the policy as more evidence of Turkish society slowly turning away from the West; embracing regional autocrats, such as Bashar al-Assad, Mahmud Ahmedinejad, and Omar al-Bashir; and Islamization of the populace as part of their plan to one day install Sharia law ”overnight.” Turkey’s choice of regional friends does at times highlight its religious outlook more than cultural ones: estranging historical trade and military partner Israel over the Gaza crisis sits unsteadily when Turkey comes to Sudan’s defense.”
I think that sets the tone.
And then there is all the treats and demands on it’s “allies” in NATO, EU:
Erdogan issued a direct threat on NATO when he warned on September 27, 2011:
“ISTANBUL—Turkey officially accepted delivery of its first domestically manufactured warship Tuesday at a ceremony that underscored the country’s push to become a regional power.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan used the occasion to criticize oil drilling in the eastern Mediterranean by Greek interests. He pointedly noted that the ceremony took place on the 473rd anniversary of the Battle of Preveza in northwestern Greece, where a fleet from the Ottoman Turkish empire defeated a much larger Christian force.
”I recommend the international community take the necessary lessons from the Preveza victory”, Erdogan said. ”Turkey’s national interests in the seas reach from its surrounding waters to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean.”
The battle of Preveza 1538 was a” decisive Turkish/Ottoman naval battle against a Papal “Holy League” Pan-Christian Alliance”.
‘Turkeywill never share intelligence from NATO radar system with Israel’
“Turkey will never share intelligence gathered by a NATO radar system stationed on its soil with Israel, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Friday, during a joint news conference with visiting NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in Ankara.
Turkey agreed late last year to deploy the early warning radar system after seeking guarantees from the U.S. that Israel would not have access to intelligence gathered by it. NATO also agreed to post a high-ranking Turkish general at its headquarters in Germany, where intelligence gathered through the radar system would be processed, according to the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet.
The radar system has been up and running since January, and has already drawn criticism from Tehran. “The U.S. radar stationed inTurkeyis no good for any Muslim country,” Iranian Parliament Speaker Ali Larijani said at a mid-January press conference. “But we have confidence in our Turkish friends,” he said, adding that Iran would request more information on the matter.”
US senators voice worry over radar deal with Turkey
“Two key US senators expressed concerns Tuesday about a possible agreement to base a missile-shield radar in Turkey, citing the NATO ally’s strained ties with Israel and relations with Iran.
Republican Senators Jon Kyl and Mark Kirk wrote Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seeking reassurances on the possible deal, which was described in a news report last week.
The lawmakers asked for ”written assurances” that data collected by a so-called X-band radar ”will be made available, in real time” to staunch US ally Israel to be ”fully integrated into its battlement management and control.”
They also sought a guarantee that ”Turkish entities are not engaged, or suspected of engaging” in activities that fall afoul of various US laws aimed at curbing suspected nuclear weapons programs in Iran and Syria and keeping sensitive know-how from North Korea.
And President Barack Obama’s administration must also certify that the powerful radar will only be operated by US personnel, and for 24 hours a day, seven days a week, except for maintenance breaks, the senators said.
Kirk and Kyl, the number-two Senate Republican, also questioned whether the reported decision to locate the radar in Turkey would ”ensure the best defense of the United States against the Iranian long-range ballistic missile threat.”
They cited a US Missile Defense Agency study that found that the South Caucasus to be ”the optimum placement” if the system is designed to defend against an eventual Iranian ballistic missile attack.
”The administration’s plans for missile defense will require the cooperation of the Congress; the prospects for such cooperation are jeopardized if the Congress is not provided the information it requests,” they warned.”
Turkey blocks Israeli bid for opening NATO office
“Turkish objections have thwarted Israel’s attempt to open a NATO office, says Turkish FM, stressing determination to also keepIsrael out of data-sharing after a high-powered US radar system is deployed inTurkey.
Turkey has blocked an Israeli move to open a representation office at NATO headquarters, its foreign minister said Sunday, adding that data collected by a radar system in eastern Turkey would not be shared with Israel.
“Israelrecently made an attempt to open an office at NATO [headquarters] in Brussels. We said we would veto this attempt and the issue was not even put on the agenda,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said in an interview with the CNNTürk “news channel.
Turkey refused to allowIsrael to participate in annual military exercises also involving Italyand the U.S. Instead Turkeywill hold military exercises withSyria:
After snubbing Israel, Turkey to hold defense drills with Syria
Syrian defense minister says two nations to hold drills days afterTurkeynixed maneuvers withIsrael.
“Syriasaid on Tuesday it would hold military exercises with Turkey, shortly after Turkeycanceled maneuvers with Israel.
Ankara’s decision, which was commended by Syria, revived fears of cooler relations betweenIsrael and NATO memberTurkey.
”We held our first joint land military exercise (with Turkey) last spring. And today we have agreed to do a more comprehensive, a bigger one,” said Syrian Defense Minister Ali Habib, speaking at a news conference. “
“In Washington, the U.S. State Department on Tuesday objected to Turkey‘s last-minute decision to exclude Israel from the exercise.
”We think it’s inappropriate for any nation to be removed from an exercise like this at the last minute,” said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. “
And in a ironic twist when one consider what Turkey has “done” or not done regarding Syria, Turkey blocked in the beginning the US/NATO intervention in Libya.
Turkey Blocks NATO Mission in Libya
“So far, the NATO alliance has been unable to reach an agreement on participation in the military implementation of the no-fly zone. Turkey is resisting the measure and is calling for a new review of other possible measures the alliance could take in Libya. Ankara has also called for an immediate Western cease-fire, with Turkish officials calling on NATO to give greater consideration in its discussions to the possibility of civilian deaths, a NATO diplomat told the news agency AFP under the condition of anonymity. Ankara has rejected any NATO intervention against Libya, including the implementation of a no-fly zone. “
Turkey to freeze EU ties if Cyprus gets EU presidency
“Reuters) -EU-candidate Turkey will freeze relations with the European Union if Cyprusis given the EU presidency in 2012, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Besir Atalay was quoted as saying by the state-run news agency Anatolian late on Saturday.”
Turkey warns Greek Cyprus on oil drilling ahead of Israeli PM visit
“Turkeywarned Thursday that it will not allow under any circumstances foreign oil companies to conduct unauthorized oil and natural gas exploration and exploitation activities in the Eastern Mediterranean and will take all necessary measures to protect its rights in the areas within its continental shelf.
Turkey’s strong worded warning came after an announcement published in the EU Official Journal dated11 February 2012 that the Greek Cypriot administration has called for a new international tender for off-shore hydrocarbon exploration and exploitation within its so-called economic exclusive zone.”
“This situation would bring those international companies that might be interested in bidding for this illegal tender into confrontation with the TRNC (TurkishRepublicof NorthernCyprus) and the TPAO (Turkish Petroleum Corporation) , and thus would lead to an undesired tension in the region,” the statement said. “
Greek PM calls Erdogan to calm Cyprus gas tension
“Greece’s prime minister called his Turkish counterpart Monday in a bid to calm a spiralling dispute over energy resources off Cyprus as a Turkish ship began explorations under military protection.
George Papandreou ”called for calm and restraint” and reiterated that Cyprus ”was entitled to decide what it wants to do”, said Greek government spokesman Elias Mossialos.
Papandreou also told Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan that Turkey has to ”avoid unilateral acts”, referring to Ankara‘s decision to retaliate in kind for the Greek Cypriot government’s launch of offshore energy exploration.”
“Cyprus government spokesman Stefanos Stefanou on Monday told reporters Nicosia was monitoring the situation closely.
”Where necessary it will make representations and form a political and diplomatic shield for Cyprus‘ right” to explore and exploit possible deposits, he said.
Stefanou also accused Turkey of violating international law and causing tension in the region.”
But lets move on to Turkeys policies an actions regarding Iran and Syria. They have shifted drastically. First, as part of this “ottoman” expansion I talked about above, Turkey became very friendly with Iran and Syria. And cooperated on ALL matters with both of them building a strategic alliance. Including helping Syria and Iran fight their internal opposition and uprising.
That policies only started to change last summer and even more so at the beginning of this year.
Lets start with Iran
Turkey has never accepted any of the official EU and US sanction against Iran:
Gates Criticizes TurkeyVote Against Sanctions
“Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates expressed frustration withTurkeyon Friday over its refusal to support a new round of United Nations sanctions against Iran, but he suggested that the alliance betweenWashington and Ankara remained robust.”
“I’ll be honest, I was disappointed in Turkey’s vote on the Iranian sanctions,” Mr. Gates said at the end of a two-day meeting of defense ministers at the headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Brussels. “Allies don’t always agree on things, but we move forward from here.
The Security Council on Wednesday approved its fourth round of sanctions against Iran over its nuclear program. Twelve of the 15 nations on the Security Council voted for the measure, while Brazil and Turkey, which had negotiated a deal with Iran to swap some of its nuclear fuel, voted against, and Lebanon abstained. “
“Among other things, the sanctions took aim at military purchases, trade and financial transactions by the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, which controls Iran’s nuclear program and has taken a more central role in running the country and the economy. “
Turkey: Not bound by US sanctions against Iran
“Turkey, which imports oil and gas from Iran, says it is only bound by U.N. sanctions against its eastern neighbor, despite the U.S. campaign to sanctionIran further over its nuclear program.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said Turkey would evaluate the content of the U.S.sanctions but it ”does not feel it is bound by any other sanctions.” Unal spoke during a weekly news conference, which followed a meeting between Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and Iran’s parliamentary speaker, Ali Larijani.”
Ads the Turkish trade with Iran keeps growing, in direct contradiction of US and EU supposed strategy!
And as I said in my previous posts, Turkey too has its hands deep in sanctions-busting transactions with Iran: Its seventh largest bank, the state-owned Halkbank, is a conduit for Iran’s oil-related earnings. To facilitate Iran’s international oil sales
Turkey import large quantities of Iranian oil, and Iran use Turkish banks to facilitate its international oil sales.
Turkeyis also deeply involved in an effort to have the new Iranian and Iraqi pipelines to Europe routed through Turkey, reducing the Strait of Hormuz’s crucial importance as a primary route for the world’s oil supplies. This pipeline would also hurt Saudi Arabiaand the other Gulf oil producers, all of whom are dead set against Erdogan’s hegemonic aspirations in the Middle East.
Turkey and Iran’s military alliance:
Turkey Forms Alliance With Iran Against Kurds
“U.S. ally Turkey and U.S. arch-enemy Iran have formed a military alliance to drive opposition Kurds from bases in northern Iraq they have used since 2004 to launch guerrilla operations inside Iran, rebel leaders told Newsmax at a secret base in the Qandil mountains.
Both Iran and Turkeyhave vowed to send troops into northern Iraq, but until now evidence of active military cooperation between them has remained a closely-held secret.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has stepped up political and diplomatic threats in recent days, telling the United States he would cut off U.S. access to the strategic Incirlik airbase in eastern Turkey if the U.S. tried to prevent Turkey from sending troops against the Kurdish bases in northern Iraq.
Leaders of the Party of Free Life of Iranian Kurdistan, known as PJAK, provided Newsmax with extensive evidence of the Iran-Turkey alliance in two days of exclusive interviews at a secret guerilla base deep in the Qandil mountains. An Iranian Revolutionary Guards outpost was visible on a nearby mountain peak.
“Iran and Turkey attacked jointly on August 16 against our forces inside Iran and against Turkish self-defense forces in northern Iraq,” a PJAK commander using the nom de guerre Xerat told Newsmax at the Iranian rebel base.
The Iranian Revolutionary Guards “attacked us across a broad front in the areas of Sardasht, Piranshahr, Shaho, Urmieh, and along the border line,” Xerat said, citing the names of major cities in Iranian Kurdistan where PJAK rebels have been operating.
While those ground operations were underway, Iranian and Turkish artillery simultaneously began shelling civilian villages inside Iraqi Kurdistan from Metina, Zaab, Haftani, and Hakurke in the north, to Haji Oumran, Qalatdizza, Zeh, Marado, and Xinera in the south, he added.
Turkish artillery hit the northern villages, while Iranian gunners hit the southern ones.
Iranian troops attempted to cross into Iraq through the mountain passes, but PJAK fighters held the line.
“The goal of the Iranians is to drive us from the border area,” rebel leader Biryar Gabar told Newsmax. “They want to turn this area into a no-man’s land, so they can use it to smuggle weapons and Islamist guerillas into Iraq to fight the Americans.”
He called the Iran-Turkey entente “an anti-American alliance,” not just an anti-Kurdish agreement, and said that it resulted from deliberate decisions from the ruling Islamist AKP party of Prime Minister Erdogan to transform Turkey into an increasingly Islamist state.
A senior European official, who was involved in talks to bring Turkey into the European Union, told Newsmax recently he had been “stunned” by the hard-line toward the Kurds taken by AKP party leader Abdullah Gul, now Turkey’s president.
“He was totally uncompromising,” the official said. “He took a harder line than the Turkish military.”
Iran has been offering Turkeyan economic agreement with Iran in July to build a strategic pipeline that will bring Iranian natural gas to Europe, in defiance of a U.S. led effort to increase the economic squeeze on Iran.”
“Since the liberation of Iraq by the Coalition, PJAK has maintained control of the Iran-Iraq border in this area, and prevented infiltration by Iran or al-Qaida-related terrorists.
The U.S. military sent liaison officers to meet with PJAK in 2003 and again in 2005 to discuss Iranian efforts to infiltrateIraq, but have not pursued discussions further, PJAK officials said.
“From August 16-24, the Iranians tried to cross the border along the mountain ridge line, but we pushed them back,” Biryar Gabar said.
During the Iranian ground attacks, PJAK learned from its operatives on the ground inside Iran that Turkish officers were acting as military advisors to the Iranian troops, he told Newsmax.”
“Since the failed ground offensive by the Iranians, Turkish officers have begun training Iranian Revolutionary Guards troops in counter-insurgency operations at the Soleiman training camp near the Iranian city of Urmieh.
“The Iranians had little experience in counter-insurgency operations, so the Turks are training them,” guerilla leader Xenat said.
“Our friends saw Turkish officers coordinating the operations of the Iranian army in the Kelaresh area,” he added. Kelaresh is in the border region outside of Salmas andUrmieh,Iran.
An exclusive Newsmax source in Iran reported in late August that eight Turkish officers were then in Urmieh, coordinating the anti-Kurdish military campaign with Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.
At the command level, Iranian and Turkish military officers have held monthly coordination meetings in the Turkish cities of Harakeh, Van, Bashakale, and in the Iranian cities of Urmieh, Mahabad, and Salmas, PJAK officials said.
The Iranian government sent a 12-member delegation to Hakkari, Turkey, for a summit meeting with Turkish officials on Sept. 10, PJAK officials said.”
“PJAK guerilla leaders also pointed to the recent creation by Iran of civilian village guards, known as “jash,” in the Iranian Kurdish areas, as another sign of Turkish military cooperation with Iran.
“The Turkish army used a similar tactic when fighting the PKK in the 1990s,” said Xenat, a former PKK fighter who is originally fromTurkey but joined PJAK once the PKK dissolved its military wing in early 2000.
The “jash” village guards act as spies for the Revolutionary Guards to identify PJAK guerilla fighters., he said. They are also dressing up in Kurdish guerilla uniforms and attacking Iranian villagers, pretending to be PJAK fighters.
“The Turks have been fighting a dirty war in anti-guerilla operations for 30 years. Now they are teaching this to the Iranians,” Xenat said.”
And Turkey supports Iran’s nuclear program
Turkey voices support for Iran’s nuclear program
”The government and nation of Turkey has always clearly supported the nuclear positions of the Islamic republic of Iran, and will continue to firmly follow the same policy in the future,” Erdogan was quoted as saying in the statement issued by Ahmadinejad’s office.
Ahmadinejad thanked Turkey for its ”clear and frank” stance on the issue, the statement added.”
Another interesting fact, in October 2011 the Chinese air force was in Turkey and took part in joint exercise with the Turkish air force. Before arriving inTurkey, the Chinese air force had been in Iran and had a similar joint exercise there.
And Israel was very concerned with what was going on inTurkeyand its relations with Iran:
If there is not a change in personality, then Turkeywill become Iran No. 2
“Israel‘s defense community has assessed that Turkey was moving toward becoming a radical and nuclear Islamic state.
Officials and leading analysts asserted that the government of Prime Minister Recep Erdogan was rapidly dismantling the secular Turkish state. They said Erdogan could turn Turkey into another Iran, a radical Muslim state with nuclear weapons.
”There could be a deep strategic change,” Amos Gilad, a senior Defense Ministry official, said.
Officials cited Turkey’s referendum that would revise the secular constitution. They said the 26 amendments approved by 58 percent of voters on Sept. 12 would significantly increase the authority of Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party while marginalizingTurkey’s military.
Leading officials expressed concern over Erdogan’s growing power in Turkey and his success in intimidating the once-powerful Turkish military. They said Erdogan could use his referendum victory to expand Turkey‘s alliance with neighboring Iran and Syria while fomenting another crisis with Israel.
”If there is not a change in personality, then Turkey will become Iran No. 2,” former National Security Council director Uzi Dayan said.”
And most devious at all: Turkey has allowed Iran to supply Syria with arms to crush the civilian uprising through its territory. It only stopped in January this year.
Iran army supplies to Syria via the Turkish Dogubayazit route
In the middle of January, Turkey reported halting five Iranian trucks loaded with weapons for Syria at the Killis Turkish-Syrian border crossing and impounding its freight. Actually, the Iranian convoy was not really stopped at Killis but at the eastern Turkish Dobubayazit border crossing with Iran, near Mount Ararat. This supply route for Syria had been going strong for months. Ankara‘s decision to suspend it has reduced its volume by 60 percent.
The Turks kept very quiet about the Dogubayazit route because disclosure would have exposed them as working two sides of the Syrian conflict – letting Tehran set up a clandestine arms route for helping the Assad regime crack down on protest, while publicly posing as the leading champions of the Syrian protest movement – even to providing the Free Syria Army with bases and training facilities.
The influx of Iranian arms supplies via Turkey gave the Syrian army a major boost in quelling the uprising especially in the restive towns of Hama, Homs and Idlib, where demonstrations have dwindled. Now Ankara is worried about the consequences. Thursday, President Abdullah Gul raised fears of the Syrian uprising mutating into civil war.Ankara is concerned that sectarian conflict inSyria could spill over intoTurkey.
With “friends” like this how need enemies?
Over to Syria
A year ago Turkey’s prime minister Erdogan addressed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as “my brother”.
And Hakan Fidan (very pro Iranian), chief of Turkish MIT intelligence service, has on Erdogans orders gone frequently to Damascus to update Assad’s regime on Syrian opposition activities. One of Assad’s key sources of information about what the opposition is up to.
This stopped on May 24, and even more so in August, 2011 when Erdogan finally realised that after three months of unstinting support for the Assad regime, the Turkish government circles seek to shun finding themselves ”backing a regime which shoots to kill Muslims in the street.” After the number of Syrian deaths rose past 1,100, one high-ranking official commented, ”Turkey is a Muslim democracy. It must not lend support to dictators who murder their citizens.”
So at least then Erdogan stopped to openly supporting Assad. It would take longer for Turkeyto actually start doing something. That happened in January this year.
And the rhetoric of setting up “safe” or “buffer zone” has been talked about by the Turks for nearly a year buy now and nothing has been done.
Turkey recalibrates its approach to Syria
(Reuters) – Just over a year ago, Turkey’s prime minister addressed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus as “my brother”. Today, illusions of kinship are long gone and the region’s rising power finds itself marshalling efforts to press him from power, but increasingly wary of being pitched into military action.
The falling out between Assad and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan grew personal as well as diplomatic as Syria’s president ignored Turkish calls for restraint and pressed his attacks on protesters. Erdogan drew a comparison with Nazi Germany in some of the strongest words of any major leader onSyria.
In one email, intercepted and published in Britain’s Guardian newspaper, Assad’s wife Asma is asked if she would pass her email address to Erdogan’s wife. “I use this account only for family and friends,” she replies. “It would be difficult for me at this stage to consider her in either category after the insults they have directed towards the president.”
The Syrian insurrection has tested the limits of Turkish regional diplomatic power that has grown markedly under Erdogan’s stewardship. For years Ankara invested heavily in relations with Syria and Assad, calculating closer ties could foster both trade and reforms in its southern neighbour, as well as weaken its reliance on Iran, for centuries Turkey’s main regional rival.
“They thought that because of the personal relationship that had developed between Erdogan and Bashar, the Syrians would be a pushover,” said Philip Robins of Oxford University.
“There was a complete misunderstanding based on an assumption that they had manoeuvred the other side so that they would do their bidding, and that absolutely was not the case.”
Syrian protests escalated from March last year. Assad failed to heed ever more insistent telephone calls from Erdogan and visits from Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appealing for reform. By August, Ankara had had enough.
TURKEY SEES RED LINES
Having seen the rapid revolution in Egypt and with the overthrow of Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi seemingly imminent, Turkey sharply turned against its erstwhile ally in Damascus.
“They wanted to position themselves on the right side of history, expecting the Syrian regime to fall in weeks as in Tunisia and Egypt,” said Paul Salem, director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut.
Turkey now hosts Syria’s main opposition groups and shelters the rebel Free Syria Army on its side of the common frontier. On April 1, it will be the venue of a meeting of Western and Middle Eastern officials and groups involved with Syria.
Assad has shown himself to be impervious to verbal assault and resilient to increasingly violent protests and guerrilla attacks. He is also for now at least largely insulated from strong United Nations-backed action due to the vetoes of China and his backer Russia on the Security Council.
“Right now there is a disappointing situation for Ankara,” said Salem. “What they banked on didn’t happen. Their bluff and bluster was met by bluff and bluster from the Syrian side and now we are certainly in a bit of a stalemate.”
Without backing from the U.N., or at least the Arab League and NATO, Turkey is unwilling to go it alone in Syria. But with a 900-km (560-mile) border with Syria, more than 16,000 Syrian refugees on its soil and hundreds more arriving each day, it is not a problem from which Ankara can simply walk away.
Turkey has signalled a huge flood of refugees or massacres on its door-step would be red lines that would force it to act, but short of military intervention, there are few effective options available, analysts said.
Erdogan said last week setting up a “safe” or “buffer zone” along the border was one of the options under consideration, but that would mean troops going into Syria to seize and secure territory which the rebel Free Syrian Army has failed to do.
“We need to consider maybe to have a buffer zone inside Syrian territory, but without Syrian consent this may lead to some kind of military conflict … and this may escalate the situation,” said Kamer Kasim of the International Strategic Research Organisation (USAK), Turkish think-tank.
Like it or not, Turkey finds itself centre stage of diplomatic efforts to dislodge Assad, and would be on the front line of any military intervention, whether an Arab peace force or arming the Free Syrian Army, both measures the Arab League could discuss when it holds a summit in Baghdad next week.
But there are very good reasons why Turkey should be wary of intervening in Syria, given its strategic backing by Turkey’s neighbour and regional power Iran, and the closeness to Iran of Ankara’s other Middle Eastern neighbour, Iraq.
“Turkey has got itself into a position where it has a major foreign policy issue with its three Middle Eastern neighbours,” said Robins. “This is really not clever, especially in a part of the world where power politics is still the name of the game.”
“If it were just Turkey versus Syria then the Turks if they were minded to could probably just pile in,” he said. “But when you factor in the presence of other regional powers … and you also have Israel which is getting closer to Cyprus and Greece, and then of course you have the Russians to the north who are supporting Syria, it suddenly becomes much more complex.”
Some in Turkey see a Western attempt to pushAnkara into taking the leading role, and a large part of the risk, inSyria.
Parliament speaker Cemil Cicek, from Erdogan’s AK Party, blamed what he called “Western cunning” for trying to push Turkey into action. “Everyone is on the sidelines as if they are watching a match and saying ‘let Turkey sort it out’.”
That at least was how many observers saw last week’s visit to Ankara of CIA Director David Petraeus.
“It seems Turkeyhas been left holding the baby,” said Ali Nihat Ozcan, a security analyst at the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey.
The Americans, he said, “are probably trying to encourage Turkey to get more involved. Turkey is having second thoughts.”
Turkey has not yet rowed back, but much of the rhetoric has been replaced by a determined attempt to forge more consensus on Syria, hosting a “Friends of Syria” meeting in Istanbul on April 1 to try keep it high on the international agenda.
There Turkey will do what it diplomatically does best, bringing together the West and the Middle East where it uniquely has a foot in both camps.
“I would have thought the thing to do is to get back in the pack as far as NATO and the Western alliance is concerned; you are not exposed in the way that Turkey has been,” said Robins.
“You can have your own perspective on what is happening. You are still deeply alarmed at the loss of life and devastation in Syria, but you can only really move in tandem with the alliance more generally and with the Americans in particular.”
What really turned the Turks to doing something was when Assda played the PKK card in January this year. And opened a direct route fromIraq via Syria to Turkey for PKK.
Remember that Turkey nearly invaded Syria in 1998 for sponsoring Kurdish terrorism.
On October 20, 1998, Syria and Turkey signed the Adana Agreement under pressure from Iran and Egypt. The agreement was for Syria to keep the PKK from threatening Turkish sovereignty from Syrian bases.
After that PKK leader Abdullah Öcalan was expelled by Syrian authorities. Abdullah Öcalan then bounced around the capitals ofEurope, only to be captured in Kenya and handed over to the Turks by the CIA.
After the undeclared war between Turkey and Syria, Syria placed restrictions on PKK activity on its soil.
Idlib Binnish -”The People Who Represent Us are Those Fighting in the Trenches Not The Ones Sleeping in Hotels (SNC Members)”
And then there is the Turkish effort, with the Obama administrations backing and collaboration, to make SNC the sole voice of the opposition. So the SNC can receive all money and all supply toSyria must be funneled and coordinated through them so they are in full control.
Only one problem, SNC is in reality a Muslim Brotherhood controlled organization even if it pretends to be “neutral”.
See this video which shows Muslim Brotherhood leader Ali Sadreddine Bayanouni claiming that the Brotherhood chose Birhan Ghalioun to be the SNC leader as a front man because he would be more appealing to the West than an open Islamist.
But the Syrian National Council (SNC) has failed. The people of Syria has seen trough this and rejected SNC as “a sole voice of the opposition”.
In fact, several SNC members, including Kamal al-Labwani and Haitham Maleh, have announced their resignations. They are both elderly veteran dissidents who are not Islamists. The reason being given most often for this crack-up is that the group’s leadership is “autocratic,” excluding most of the membership from any role in decision-making.
Leaving aside the element of personal ambition, however, why is it autocratic? Because it is imposing the Muslim Brotherhood line rather than responding to the preferences of the activists within Syria, that’s why.
As the New York Times admits, al-Labwani, “accused Muslim Brotherhood members within the exile opposition of `monopolizing funding and military support.’” Yet there is not a word about how the Obama Administration pushed this Brotherhood-dominated leadership onto the Syrian opposition.
Most of the Kurds involved in the original talks angrily walked out of the negotiations because of their objection to Islamist leadership. The Obama Administration’s choice of Turkey to coordinate this operation made it even harder to bring in Syrian Kurds, who play an important role in the revolution, since Turkey has fought a long war against Kurdish nationalism at home. Another issue of conflict is the SNC’s bad relationship with the FSA (Free Syrian Army) and its rejection of armed struggle to overthrow the dictatorship.
The opposition inside Syria say that this is because the Islamists hope to make a deal with the regime that would empower them (and they hope would eventually bring them to power in the longer-term) rather than fight it out.
Of the nineteen announced members of the top leadership of SNC, ten of them were Islamists, (Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist). A reliable Syrian opposition source tells that two more members are secretly Islamist tools.
In short, the U.S. government was helping to turn Syria’s revolution over to the Islamists. If this group had succeeded, the West would be facing still another radical Islamist regime that hated the West, wanted to go to war with Israel, and would be imposing a new dictatorship on its country.
That’s one of the reasons why there are more than a half-dozen other opposition groups have developed as rivals to the SNC.
And by the way, Erdogan is close personal friend of Obama which have made Turkeya key cornerstone in his Middle East policy.
Or as Barry Rubin puts it:
“President Barack Obama is continuing his love affair with Turkish Islamist leader Recep Erdogan. As Erdogan continues to undermine Turkish democracy, throw hundreds of moderates into jail, destroy the nation’s institutions, help Iran, throw hysterical tantrums about how much he hates Israel, promote Islamism in the region, and is fresh from still another meeting with Hamas leaders, Obama continues to use Erdogan as his guru.
When the two men met at the Seoul, South Korea, Nuclear Security Summit on March 25, Obama practically slobbered over the anti-American ruler, calling Erdogan his “friend and colleague….We find ourselves in frequent agreement upon a wide range of issues.”
When Erdogan goes to elections or is criticized by the opposition he uses statements like this to “prove” that his policies aren’t radical or anti-Western at all. Here’s a man whose regime can help terrorist groups organize a violent confrontation with Israel, preside over a virulently anti-American media, insist Iran isn’t seeking nuclear weapons and has a wonderful government, and then be lionized by the president of the United States.
“I think it’s fair to say that over the last several years, the relationship between Turkey and the United States has continued to grow across every dimension. And I find Prime Minister Erdogan to be an outstanding partner and an outstanding friend on a wide range of issues.”
What did the two men talk about? Well, they first discussed Syria, an issue on which Obama praised Erdogan’s “outstanding leadership.” In fact, Turkey has helped to engineer an Islamist leadership in the Syrian National Council that wrecked any chance that the opposition could unite.Turkey’s rulers did this not to promote democracy but to promote the Muslim Brotherhood.
Now, according to reliable sources, Obama is discouraging Erdogan from advocating a no-fly zone and safe haven in northern Syria because the U.S. government has basically decided not to help the opposition, which will ensure that the Syrian dictatorship crushes it and continues to be Iran’s main ally in the region.
Instead, Obama is opting, in his words, for “a process whereby a transition to a representative and legitimate government in Syria takes place.” In other words, Obama advocates a deal between the opposition and the dictatorship of President Bashar al-Assad If this sounds like a contradiction, remember that this is also the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood line but is opposed by both the Free Syrian Army and the moderate oppositionists.
Of course, however, this strategy will merely buy time for the regime to achieve a bloody victory. Erdogan is now headed to Tehran where he will try to convince his friends there to stop helping their friends in Syria. Does that sound like a mission likely to succeed?”
“Erdogan can well be delighted. He can do whatever he wants, trample on human rights at home; court radicals abroad including Hamas, Hizballah, and Iran; subvert U.S. interests, and still have Obama sit worshipfully at his feet.”
And to further prove that point that the Obama administration is ACTIVLY discouraging and opposing ANY small step Turkey wants to take regarding Syria:
US tells Turkey to back off Syria
”In a previously unreported turn of events, it has now come to light that US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in her meeting with Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu last month, emphatically dismissed a number of forward leaning options on Syria that the Turkish top diplomat proposed to the Obama administration.
What this means is that Washington, which at one point subcontracted its Syria policy to Ankara, has now called the Turks off the regime of Bashar al-Assad.
According to well-informed Turkish and US sources, during his meeting with Secretary Clinton, Davutoğlu put forward a set of measures, including, among others, creating a buffer zone and/or a humanitarian corridor, as well as organizing and equipping the Free Syrian Army (FSA). The secretary of state responded in no uncertain terms that the Obama administration had no interest in pursuing any of these options. In fact, according to one account, Clinton told her Turkish counterpart no less than three times, “We are not there.”
This conversation fits well with the administration’s message to other regional allies, namely Saudi Arabia, against arming the FSA and pushing Washington’s preferred policy of going through the Russians, in an attempt to reach a “political solution” to the Syrian crisis.”
“Apparently, the Turks, much like the Saudis, were looking to the first Friends of Syria meeting in Tunis as a possible forum to bypass the Russians and begin a more muscular effort, with US backing. The Saudis found out at the meeting that no such action was forthcoming, and withdrew in frustration, while publicly voicing their preference for arming the Syrian rebels.
The Turks got their answer from Secretary Clinton well before the Tunis gathering, and, according to the Turkish sources, were dismayed at the Obama administration’s extraordinary passivity and refusal to lead.
The message conveyed to the Turks was the same one made clear to the Saudis. According to one US source, when Davutoğlu ended up asking Clinton where the administration was on the issue, her response simply repeated the mantra about the Arab League initiative and going to the Security Council again for another go at the Russians. In other words, it was more of the same.”
“As a result, the administration has found itself in the surreal position of siding closer with Assad’s Russian ally and at cross-purposes with its own regional allies – and, most significantly, in contradiction with its own stated policy of regime change in Syria.”
With “allies” like this who need enemies?
And finally some FSA comedy:
THE FREE SYRIAN ARMY COLLECTS DONATIONS FOR THE TURKISH ARMY – The FSA, who barely have enough weapons and supplies for themselves, conduct a charity drive for the Turkish Army.
Assad’s forces attacked a refugee camp in the town of Kilis on the Turkish side of the border and injured a couple of Turks in addition to wounding a dozen Syrians and killing two.
The Turkish Army has yet to respond to the attack, so the FSA conducted this donations drive for them.
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