The Greek Coastguard has intercepted a Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship with around 20,000 Kalashnikov assault rifles on board. The intended destination of the vessel, halted near the Imia islets in the eastern Aegean, remains unknown.
The cargo ship Nour M, intercepted on Thursday night, was taken to the island of Symi the following morning under the escort of Coastguard vessels, where it was soon thereafter led to the island of Rhodes.
The vessel’s Turkish captain and seven crew members, two of whom were Turkish and five of whom were Indian, were placed under arrest, coastguard sources told the Athens-Macedonian News Agency (ANA-MPA).
The cargo was both larger than that declared on the ship’s manifest, and the ship did not have the proper UN documents to deliver cargo to a conflict zone. The Greek Coastguard issued a statement saying attempts to catalogue the firearms and munitions on board were ongoing.
“The exact destination of the arms and ammunition has yet to be verified,” the coastguard statement read. Apart from the large quantity of firearms, the ship was also allegedly carrying a “large” quantity of explosives. A probe determined the ship had previously been used for drug trafficking.
Sources told ANA-MPA that the vessel had set sail from Ukraine, although the ship’s final destination remains unclear. Although the ports of Tartus in Syria and Tripoli in Libya had both been declared as destination ports to marine traffic systems, the Turkish Mediterranean port city of Iskenderun was declared as the destination port by the ship’s captain.
Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry said they are attempting to determine if the Nour departed from the country.
Maritime expert Mikhail Voitenko told Ukraine’s Vesti that the ship likely picked up its cargo in Istanbul.
“I think it was there for no other purpose than to get the weapons. It is also strange that it took the ship two weeks to get from Nikolaev [Ukraine] to Greece when the trip takes a maximum of five days. What it was doing and where it was doing it at the time: that is the question.”
Voitenko said the vessel was likely detained as the result of a tip-off.
“That we have this ship sailing through the Black Sea is strange, but through Greek [territorial] waters it went in a straight line, so police had no reason to detain the ship,” he said.
Turkish border guards seized three vehicles loaded with over 1,000 kg of chemicals as they tried to illegally cross the border into Syria. One of the smugglers was arrested, while others managed to escape.
The Turkish General Staff reported that the chemicals were seized after a convoy of three vehicles refused to stop and attempted to illegally cross the border near the southeastern Turkish town of Reyhanli on Saturday.
Paramilitary police were ordered to shoot out the tires of the vehicles to stop them. As the tires caught on fire, the three drivers jumped out and fled in the direction of Syria. One of them was arrested.
The vehicles contained 20 bags of sulphur, weighing about 50 kg each, and eight sealed barrels. Their contents were not immediately known.
Republican People’s Party (CHP) chairman Faruk Logoglu said in a statement on Monday that the barrels are suspected to contain chemical material. “Traffic was from Turkey to Syria,” he added.
The arrested suspect’s nationality has not been made public. He was taken into custody after interrogation by the Reyhanli district gendarmerie headquarters and is to be sent to the prosecutor’s office.
Chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense (CBRN) units from the Disaster and Emergency Management Presidency have started examining the seized material, Logoglu’s statement said.
The Republican People’s Party has also criticized the release of a primary suspect in a similar case, saying that closing the investigation would be “a shame for Turkey,” Hurriyet newspaper reported, citing CHP’s deputy.
In May 2013, Turkish police seized a group of people after being informed that Syrian rebel groups were looking to obtain materials that could be used to produce chemical weapons.
A two -kilogram cylinder with what initially was suggested to be sarin gas was seized while searching the homes of Syrian militants from the Al-Qaeda-linked Jabhat al-Nusra Front following their detention.
Some of the suspects accused of establishing a connection with a network in Turkey to convey chemical materials were released after lab tests proved that the seized chemicals were not sarin gas.
The alleged use of sarin – considered one of the world’s most dangerous chemical warfare agents – in a Damascus suburb on August 21 provoked an international outcry which nearly led to a US military strike against the Syrian regime, as Western countries assumed it was the Assad government who used the chemical weapons.
However, while a UN investigation proved that sarin was used near Damascus, it did not say who was behind the attack. At the same time, Russia also analyzed samples taken in the Syrian town of Aleppo, where chemical weapons were allegedly used in March. Experts concluded that rebels – not the army – were behind the Aleppo sarin attack.
In September, Syria agreed to comply with Moscow’s offer to put its chemical weapons under international control for subsequent destruction, in order to avert a possible military strike. Damascus declared the possession of 1,300 tons of chemicals and precursors needed for chemical weapons production, as well as over 1,200 empty chemical munitions.
On Thursday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) said that Syria’s entire declared stock of chemical weapons has been placed under seal.
The organization acknowledged that Damascus has complied with the watchdog’s requirement, adopted on September 27, for the complete elimination of chemical weapons and production units in Syria before November 1.
The process of eliminating Syria’s chemical weapons stocks has a target finish date of mid-2014.
The Turkish newspaper, Hurriyet, reported that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will meet Russian President, Vladimir Putin, in Moscow at the end of November, when discussions will focus on the Syrian crisis.
Hurriyet noted that Erdogan will visit the Russian capital where he will head a delegation of a large number of ministers and will preside over the meeting of the joint ministerial committee of the Turkish-Russian Cooperation Council during 21st to the 22nd November. The meeting will discuss several political, trade and investment issues between the two countries.
Deputy Russian foreign minister, Alexei Meshkv, said that the two sides will address several regional and international issues of mutual interest and will discuss ways to develop bilateral relations. In an exclusive interview with the Turkish newspaper Meshkov asserted that Russian-Turkish relations are evolving in several areas, especially in the energy field. The two sides are also cooperating on the construction of the Mersin Nuclear Power and the South Stream natural gas pipeline project, which will pass through the Black Sea.
Until joined by the Islamic government in 1979 and then by Hizbullah in the 1980s, Syria was Israel’s most visceral enemy. This enemy is now being destroyed but not by Israel. So-called Muslims backed by so-called Muslim governments – Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – are doing the job for it, in alliance with the traditional western enemies of the Arabs. Syria’s cities and towns have been devastated. An estimated 100,000 people have been killed. Millions more have been displaced, scattered across Syria or seeking refuge beyond its borders. Reconstruction will cost hundreds of billions of dollars. Recovery will take decades. Without spending a penny or losing a life, Israel has been handed one of the greatest strategic victories in its existence.
Michael Oren let the scarcely concealed cat out of the bag the other day when he said Israel would prefer a Syria without Bashar al Assad to a Syria in the hands of the jihadists. The outgoing Israeli ambassador in Washington, Oren was only bringing something to the surface that could be seen underneath it despite the vociferous denials of Israel’s lobbyists. Israel wants the government in Damascus destroyed. Netanyahu has been trying to hide its interest behind a mask of indifference but as the likelihood of a US military ‘strike’ – for a war that would engulf the region – slipped away, the lobbyists in Washington broke cover. They buttonholed every congressman and women, only for the vote on war to be postponed indefinitely, much to the chagrin of the gulf and Turkish governments, their armed and political protégés and the Israeli government.
While the Syrian army continues to grind the armed groups down, there seems no end to the volume of money, armaments and men outside governments are still prepared to pour into this conflict. Obama is still trying hard to get Russian agreement on a UNSC resolution that would allow the US to begin another war in the Middle East by attacking Syria. In the meantime the armed groups are continuing with the war they are waging. In his recent interview with former US congressman Dennis Kucinich and Fox news correspondent Greg Palkot, Bashar al Assad estimated that 80 to 90 percent of the armed men are Al Qaida-type takfiri jihadists. The ‘defence’ consultancy HIS- Janes puts the figure at about 50 per cent but whether it is 50 per cent or 90 cent, whether they are foreign or Syrian, the jihadists are dominating the fighting. Talk of moderates is deception. Only in the last few days the main fighting groups – all takfiri – have again rejected the authority of the exile Syrian National Coalition and the so-called Free Syrian Army. This is presented as something new when at least a year ago the very same groups issued the same kind of declaration saying the same things. The so-called FSA is the western standard bearer for ‘moderation’ in this struggle even though its brigades are every bit as fanatical as Jabhat al Nusra or any of the other takfiri groups.
If the Syrian government does fall – and at the moment it is not only holding its ground but steadily driving the takfiris back – chaos would prevail in Syria on a far greater scale than Libya at present or Algeria in the 1980s. The country would implode. This is so self-evident that the US and its allies must know it and if they know it, one has to presume that this is what they want. Saudi Arabia is out to destroy the Syrian government regardless of the consequences. Britain and France are following the US and US policy on any issue in the Middle East is largely fashioned according to the interests of Israel. Turkey is the odd man out. Whatever Recep Tayyip Erdogan thought he was going to get out of confronting Syria his own country has been very adversely affected by his decisions. The breakdown of Arab states into sectarian enclaves permanently at war with each other has been an Israeli strategic objective for decades. It has happened in Iraq and now the specter of the collapse of another unitary Arab state hovers over Syria.
While the takfiris do their best to destroy Syria, Israel is getting on with the colonization of Palestinian territories as fast as it can. The current wave of settlement expansion is the greatest since 1967. In the past year edicts have been pouring out of the Housing Ministry authorizing the construction of thousands of housing ‘units’ in East Jerusalem and across the West Bank. The strategic focus is on settlement expansion in and around East Jerusalem and the construction of highways and roads that will simultaneously integrate the settlements into the greater Jerusalem municipality (enlarged immediately after the 1967 war) and, along with the Separation Wall, further cut the Palestinians off from the city. In the first quarter of 2013 alone there was a 176 per cent increase in settlement expansion over the same quarter for 2012.
In August this year, just as the ‘peace talks’ were resuming, Israel announced the construction of thousands more housing ‘units’ in East Jerusalem settlements. The mainstream media tells us that settlement expansion is ‘impeding’ peace, ‘threatening’ the peace talks and the ‘two state’ solution. The plain fact is that there are no ‘peace talks’. They are the camouflage for the war Israel has been waging against the Palestinians for seven decades. To their discredit and dishonor Mahmud Abbas and Saib Urayqat are giving these ‘talks’ a Palestinian face. By announcing settlement construction in the same breath as announcing the resumption of ‘peace talks’ Israel shows its absolute contempt for both of them.
Land expropriation and development for agricultural purposes continues unabated. So does the theft of water. The Council for European Palestinian Relations estimated recently that the settlers consume an average of 280 liters of water a day compared to 86 liters for the Palestinians, below the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 100 liters. Only 60 per cent of the water allocated to the Palestinians is potable. While taking their land Israel simultaneously uses it as a rubbish dump, with solid waste from West Jerusalem being dumped at Abu Dis, once set up by Israel as the Palestinian ‘capital’ of East Jerusalem even though it was not even inside the municipality until Israel put it there. The settlers do the same, dumping their rubbish and household waste water on Palestinian land in the valleys below their settlements on the hilltops.
In a statement handed to the UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission to Palestine in February this year, Al Haq (Law in the Service of Man) presented some statistics. In 2012, 202 ‘incidents’ of settler violence along with dispossession, home demolitions, forcible evictions and intimidation; more than 200 settlements established since 1967, including 14 in East Jerusalem, and more than 500,000 settlers now living in them; and more than 42 per cent of the land of the West Bank as well as most of its resources allocated to Jewish settlements. Al Haq notes that the Israeli High Court ‘has rendered the question of the settlements non-justiciable’.
The Council for European Palestinian Relations estimates that the population in the West Bank settlements is growing at an average of five per cent a year compared to 1.8 per cent for the rest of occupied Palestine. It puts the total number of settlers at 467,000, of which number 385,000 are living in between the Separation Wall and the 1967 ‘green line.’
Every brick laid by Israel on the West Bank, every liter of water pumped out for settlements swimming pools and lawns and the presence of every settler represents a violation of international law. Yet, says Naftali Bennett, the Religious Services Minister and leader of the Jewish Home Party: ‘We will continue building and you will see this soon.’ He was speaking before the August announcement that more housing ‘units’ would be added to Jewish colonies in East Jerusalem. ‘I am sending the message from here to all the parties in the negotiations: the land of Israel belongs to the nation of Israel’. He has pledged to do ‘everything in my power to make sure they never get a state.’
In a leaked exchange with another cabinet minister Bennett said that ‘I’ve killed many Arabs in my life and there’s no problem with that.’ He complained that the conversation had been taken out of context, because what he meant was that he had ‘only’ killed them in the context of operations. There was one such ‘operation’ on the West Bank last week. Heavily armed soldiers stormed into the Jenin refugee camp, broke into the house of the Tubaisi family, shot Islam al Tubaisi, 19, in the leg, dragged him downstairs, his head banging on every step and shot him dead before an ambulance took him to hospital. Perhaps in time the members of this unit will be bragging in time about how they also have killed many ‘Arabs’.
Dig deep enough into the crises in Iraq, Syria and Lebanon and the confrontation with Iran and eventually you will find Palestine. It remains the central issue, the pivot on which US policies, dominated by Israeli interests and demands, has turned for more than six decades, yet for the takfiris affiliated with Al Qaida, killing other Muslims (and Christians) in a variety of countries takes precedence. It is striking that the same heads of government inveighing against terrorism and expressing their outrage at the slaughter of innocents in Nairobi have not once expressed outrage at the slaughter of innocents in Syria unless they thought they could blame the Syrian government.
The call of unity sounds through modern Arab history like the cry of a lost bird. United the Arabs will stand and divided they will continue to fall. As long as they are not able to put common interests first they are going to be ripe for the plucking. What is at stake in Syria is not the political system but Syria itself and for the past three years it has been systematically and deliberately destroyed by an unholy coalition of outside governments and the gangs of armed men doing their dirty work in the name of Islam.
The dominant Arab actors in this deliberately induced catastrophe are the regimes in Riyadh and Doha. They engage with Israel behind the scenes even as it colonizes Palestinian land and sends uniformed gangsters into the Haram al Sharif to beat Muslim worshipers trying to protect one of the holiest sites in Islam. While consorting with the enemy and abandoning the Palestinians these two regimes – infinitely less representative of the will of the people than the government in Damascus – take the lead in the destruction of an Arab state. The greatest beneficiary of their actions on one hand and their inaction and neglect on the other is Israel. This is surely as great a disgrace as any in Arab and Islamic history.
- Jeremy Salt is an associate professor of Middle Eastern history and politics at Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.
Bashar’s acceptance to let go of his “Nukes of the poor” arsenal could mean that the Syrian government has assessed the potential outcome of an American sustained offensive to be a game changer and desperately agreed to any way out.
Handing over chemical weapons in a gradual more controlled manner would have been understandable but giving up the location of the chemical sites with such immediacy hints to a much weakened Syrian position. It is no secret that the details given to the UN will eventually end up in Israeli hands, then why would the Syrian government accept such a deal other than Assad’s real fear of loosening his grip on power?
Netanyahu’s remarks following the chemical handover deal that “negotiating with Syria and Iran with a real and present threat to use force is the only way to make them cooperate” suggests that Syria’s president is indeed at the mode of fighting for survival. But that too is too simplistic provided that, surrendering chemical weapons or not, the US is sure to pursue him to the very bitter end. Then why give up such a strong deterrent?
The fact of the matter is that Bashar al-Assad is an intelligent man who at the very least understands that betraying Russia and Iran, who have been supporting his efforts in the past two years, would be a serious mistake. Therefore, any big decision Syria makes has to have been consulted with its main backers and has been given some sort of guarantees that giving up chemical weapons is not as risky as it might appear and that a credible backup plan is in place.
Smartly, Syria is giving both the US and Russia a face saving mechanism to avoid any further escalation between the two super powers and at the same time it is buying crucial time. Bashar himself declared that at least one full year is required to clear Syria of chemical weapons.
For Syria, chemical weapons are much harder to dispose of than replenish because Syria’s allies have stockpiles upon stockpiles of them. And so if the US chooses to change course somewhere during the period of chemical disarmament and attacks Syria, the very scenario that has been averted would be quickly reintroduced.
One ship full of chemical weapons is all that is required to rearm Syria, after all the main target of such weapons is a country the size of a province; Israel. Moreover, the Iranian and Hezbollah threat of intervening by attacking Israel will not be changed by simply handing over the chemical weapons.
Of course, the decision to hand over the weapons which buys the Syrian government crucial time is unwelcome by the “saboteur” of the region, Saudi Arabia and Turkey. The real danger for them is that this could actually lead to further weakening of the Syrian opposition and force them unto Geneva peace talks; talks which have just been strengthened by Syria’s agreement to declare its chemical arsenal.
Turkey and Saudi Arabia know well that their stances on Syria in the past two years makes it impossible for relations with Bashar’s Syria to normalize or even a negotiated Syria where opposition participates in governance.
Regardless of Turkish and Saudi stances, the US administration and Israel had strong interests in making sure that a war is averted in some way. Had the US congress vote gone ahead and disapproved of any attack on Syria in order to fulfill the wishes of the American people, it would have been a huge blow to them.
For Obama, it would have meant being stripped of legitimacy as it relates to Syria and wider international engagements and for Israel it would have meant the weakening of the Zionist lobby within US politics and a disastrous counter attack from Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.
Bashar’s objectives to consolidate alliances and weaken the counter alliance and buying time have all been thus far satisfied. The one year disarmament period that Bashar suggested will be needed is no speculation at all; it is well calculated period during which time to weaken the opposition and its supporters and to deny the US and her allies any legitimate pretext to attack Syria.
Moreover, if Iran and Hezbollah felt justified to intervene early on, now any attack from the US or her allies before the chemical disarmament is complete makes the Iran and Hezbollah retaliation against Israel with the support of Russia even more justified.
On the other hand, the US, Turkey and Saudi Arabia, (the latter seeming more keen than the US to overthrow Bashar’s government), provided that the SNC is in a weakened position and the desperation of the trio is acute, places them in a real danger of open colluding with the likes of Al Qaeda and Al-Nusra Front. So much for fighting “terrorism”!
Every time one sees a billboard advertising Syrian International Trade Exhibition across the world one wonders how can a government in a war state for over two years manage to facilitate an environment where its factories can produce? The answer could simply be that Syria is not nearly as chaotic or as weak as Western media portrays it to be. That position has just been strengthened by Syria’s agreement to disarm.
The objective of the US and Israel has always been to disarm any Arab army that might use its weapons against Israel; the issue is not whether a country owns a huge arsenals of weapons or not, but whether it has enough potential will to use them against Israel.
The Saudis are armed to the teeth and so are the Turkish but it is their clear stance on ensuring Israel’s peace that makes them allies rather than enemies. It is for that reason that Syria is a prime target as was Saddam’s Iraq.
Five armies that pose serious threat to Israel were the priorities of the US and Israel namely Iranian, Syrian, Egyptian, Iraqi and Hezbollah and so far only one has been dealt with; that of Iraq. In the case of Egypt, the US and Israel are pleased because the Egyptian army is suspect and they truly believe they will eventually buy out its generals. That means Hezbollah, Iran and Syria are left to fight this war that will not stop until one side secures a clear victory.
Where Russia had disappointed in the past as was the case with Iraq, now it appears poised to put up a stronger posture and as such days ahead will clarify the longevity of the new Russian posture. But the latest events have revealed that Russia is no longer a mere Security Council voter but a physical actor in world events.
Therefore, it is naive to assume that Russia has been blackmailed or tricked by the US into pressuring Syria to surrender her most prized deterrent against Israel. Syria will comply albeit at a calculated pace and will give America and Israel no legitimate pretext to attack it and as such Russia will have no choice but to stand its ground. If an attack takes place, Russia’s response is likely to be far stronger than the recent showdown in the Mediterranean or else Russia becomes a goofball.
The stance of Western media and Aljazeera is a good indication that the US and her allies are not in a war mood. When a war is imminent, there are certain networks that have a duty to fulfill and that is drumming for war. They are not doing that just yet!
While it will be naive to assume that Bashar will hold on to power indefinitely, it is clear that the Syrian civil conflict will be a long term struggle and will not end nor conclude the way the US and Israel are hoping for.
- Nasrallah: Saudi Arabia, Turkey have failed in Syria (alethonews.wordpress.com)
- Questions on Syria’s Chemical Weapons disarmament (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Saudi Arabia, Turkey and other regional countries backing Syria’s rebels must acknowledge their failures to bring down the Syrian government, and join efforts for a political solution to end the two and a half year civil war, Hezbollah Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah said on Monday.
In his first televised speech in over a month, Nasrallah said dialogue is the only option to bring an end to a conflict that has already left over 100,000 people dead and threatened to exacerbate tensions across the region.
“I call on Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and other Gulf states to revise your stance,” he said. “You won’t reach anywhere by relying on a military victory. Put this hatred (for Hezbollah) aside and think with your minds. Think about your interests, the interests of the region, the survival of the region.”
He condemned calls by some Lebanese politicians from the March 14 alliance for the United States to launch an attack on Syria, warning that any strike would cause global repercussions, and that Lebanon would be the first casualty.
Those same politicians calling for the West to intervene in Syria have accused Hezbollah of endangering Lebanon by sending troops to Syria, Nasrallah added, urging them to evaluate the consequences of a US attack across the border.
Nasrallah said that Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries believed their support to rebel forces would lead an overthrow of the Syrian government within months, and are using Hezbollah as a scapegoat “to run away from their failures,” by accusing it of occupying Syria.
“For two and a half years, they used everything in their disposal … to control Syria and they failed. Of course [Hezbollah] are foreigners, we are not Syrian, but [what about] the tens of thousands of foreign fighters who you brought from all over the world? Are they occupying Syria?”
He noted that the Syrian government has expressed willingness to engage in dialogue with the opposition, and emphasized talks as the only suitable option to achieve peace.
Nasrallah also flatly denied accusations that his powerful Shia movement had obtained chemical arms from Syria, saying that he was principally and religiously forbidden from using such weapons.
- Text of Nasrallah’s September 23 speech Hezbollah chief… (yallasouriya.wordpress.com)
To hell with all the talk about democracy backed by the United States, France, Britain … and Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Israel.
To hell with every bid for freedom with the support of these murderers.
To hell with every fool, criminal, and coward, no matter what they look like, what they are called, where they live, or what they do.
To hell with all those who support an international war to topple Syria.
To hell with this bunch of collaborators, who people will no doubt hold accountable one day, come chaos or stability.
To hell with all traitors, their speeches, their false tears, and to hell with their human rights groups and their subservient civil society organizations.
The decision to wage war on Syria is only the last step in the course set two and a half years ago, to destroy Resistance, its cities, people, and even its very idea.
There is no room for any kind of bargaining, and there is no room for any discussion or debate. There is no room to listen to any collaborator touting the list of causes of war and the causers, and there is no room for those who cling to their opinions, positions, or labels, wearing bandanas on their foreheads after wearing blindfolds on their eyes, and joining forces with collaborators and takfiris.
To begin with, these people live on the crumbs thrown to them by the robbers of Arab resources and fortunes. They work for them and receive from them money and all kinds of support.
It is a duty for every capable person to fight these killers, wherever they may be, wherever there is a chance to take revenge against them, and punish all the traitors, one after the other, in their beds, behind their desks, inside their tanks, or in their palaces, whether they are alone, or among their families.
What do you want from us today?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Iraq?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Afghanistan and Somalia?
Do you want to repeat the experience of Libya? Do you want to repeat the experience of war in Lebanon?
Or do you think that this will be a war to destroy the right that will never be eliminated, and whose name, forever shall remain: Palestine?
We do not have to repeat our arguments or repeat the process of searching for answers; we do not have to repeat our comments or our warnings. All we have to do is declare one position, namely, that the war being prepared for Syria is a colonial war, and every participant in it, whether by supporting it, funding it, promoting it, justifying it, or directly fighting in it, is a cowardly collaborator… .
They will gang up on Damascus, the mother of all cities, with the aim of crushing the people, the army, and the leadership. They want to destroy its history and its heritage of resisting invaders. They want to destroy every spirit that resists colonialism and supports resistance in the whole region. They want to extend a permanent lifeline to Israel and the oppressive regimes in our Arab countries, and they want to have collaborators of all kinds take over countries, rob their resources, and annihilate their peoples.
When America says that it needs no cover, legal justification, scientific investigation, or political support, and that it is able to manipulate the fate of a nation, for the sole reason that it has decided that its interests require it, then this means that we must act exactly like America, and wait for no cover, support, justification, or ask about international norms and so forth.
We must fight against it, and against its colonies, all forms of war, and we must spare no effort to seek to transfer the struggle to its soil, in every place of its land and cities; we must scream in the face of the butcher. We would do all this, without giving them the ability to strip us of our humanity, which we shall keep for ourselves, our children, and for the oppressed everywhere.
Yesterday, the West showed its true colors: a spiteful, murderous West, that has no place for anyone except those who know how to kneel down before it, and raise the white flag above their heads.
Yesterday, Europe showed its foul nature. It is not just a foolish old crone, but an ugly one too, with venom spewing from all its folds. Dishonor mars its opinion-makers, factories, schools, universities, and its people who do not come out to disavow the killers among them.
All we can do is resist them, with all our capabilities. Nothing will prevent us from seeking out our sole enemy, which has many faces, but one name: the barbarians, the bloodsuckers. As for us, resistance is our destiny.
Ibrahim al-Amin is editor-in-chief of Al-Akhbar.
This article has been edited for posting at Aletho News.
Turkey’s policy is being smashed apart. It has no depth, no vision, no principle and no morality. It is not just a case of muddle or a failure of cynical opportunism. Rather, it is something which is completely inexplicable without there having been some sort of big bribe (probably of the “We will make you the regional big-wig” variety) for Erdogan, the Prime Minister.
Turkey had a clear, simple policy – be friends with all neighbors. It was a very sensible policy and, as a result, Turkey was able to build its economic and political strength and was increasingly being recognized as a regional leader. (Remember the deal arranged between Turkey, Brazil and Iran over 20% uranium enrichment which made Obama look like a fool, as he is?)
Importantly, Turkey was also seen as a successful example of how Islam and politics can integrate in a modern way.
But now look what has happened! History has many examples of countries, led by incompetent prime ministers, shooting themselves in the foot. However, in the case of Turkey, it’s an instance of shooting itself in both feet.
In Syria, no doubt dreaming of a huge territorial expansion under his benign rule, Erdogan went from friend to not just enemy but to being the worst thing of all – a vicious sectarian out to put the whole of the Middle East at each other’s throats. What a disgraceful turnabout for a man who was being held up as an example to the world!
And look at the consequences! Can anybody guess how many hundreds of thousands, even millions, of refugees will soon be living within Turkey’s borders? What is that going to do for Turkey’s economy?
Can anybody guess what will be the consequences for the unity of Turkey itself (which has a large Kurdish minority) given that the Kurds of Syria have to fight against the Takfiri throat-slitters supported by Turkey?
Will the Kurds in Turkey remain silent? And what about those throat-slitters in Syria (who also like a bit of head-chopping and gas-choking on the side)? Are they going to leave Turkey alone (since they have no intent of leaving anybody else alone)? Turkey is arming them and establishing secret routes for them, in fact, doing everything to ensure that Turkey itself is one day going to be attacked by them. How idiotic can you get?
Moreover, goodness me! What about Turkey’s middle class? They are enraged with Erodogan’s Syria policy and, as history teaches, politicians who upset the middle classes do so at their peril….
Erdogan has been doing some slimy creepy-crawling to the Israelis and Americans (after all, they were the ones promising that he would become the Big Caliph big-wig if he only did a bit of their bidding). But now, Erdogan is being given a nasty dose of reality – the last thing the USA and Israel want is a Big Caliph: rather, all they want is a Greater Israel (from the Mediterranean across to the River Euphrates and down to the Nile).
So, Erdogan is now accusing Israel of being behind Morsi’s ouster in Egypt which is a very reasonable accusation given that Israel (together with the USA and Saudi Arabia) is a member of the Axis of Evil which interferes everywhere in the Middle East. Of course, the USA is angry that anybody should even hint that Israel is behind anything but, then, the USA is another country regularly shooting itself in the foot and, in its case, the feet are very big, clumsy ones.
Thus, Turkey is finding out the hard way that it cannot rely on the USA or Israel as allies (and who, in their right mind, would think otherwise?)
Behind all this, of course, are some big geo-political realities one of which is that China, Russia and Iran are holding firm in backing Assad of Syria. Therefore, the USA is unlikely to intervene in Syria even though it wants to.
So, Turkey’s Syria policy is now down the drain and it’s beginning to look as if Turkey itself is going down the drain (although the country will probably push Erdogan down the drain before it gets near to going down itself….)
Where will Erdogan turn now? He is promoting sectarianism and, by doing so, has betrayed Islam.
The obvious thing to do would be to turn away from the West and Israel and look more to stronger relationships with Muslim countries. But to whom? Saudi Arabia? That would be another strategic mistake (and it is disgraceful that Erdogan has allowed a disgusting Saudi Arabia to become more influential.) Egypt? Unlikely. Iraq? Very unlikely …
Erdogan’s made a ripe mess, hasn’t he? He’s alone. Why should anybody trust him when he has betrayed everybody else? We can expect the Turkish people to be taking action soon.
Turkey closes cultural centers in Beirut after kidnapping of pilots, denies responsibility for abducted Lebanese
Turkey has closed its cultural centers and commercial office in Beirut after the kidnap of two Turkish Airlines pilots, Ankara’s ambassador to Lebanon told AFP on Monday.
The two pilots were kidnapped on Friday by a group demanding the release of nine Lebanese pilgrims kidnapped in Syria in May 2012, but reportedly moved to Turkey, a major backer of the kidnapers.
“As a safety measure, the Turkish cultural centre and commercial office in Beirut have suspended their activities,” ambassador Inan Ozyildiz said.
Responsibility for Abduction of Lebanese Pilgrims Denied
Turkish Ambassador to Lebanon Inan Ozyildiz wondered how his country could be responsible for the abduction of the Lebanese pilgrims in Syria, saying that Turkey does not even have an embassy or consulate in the neighboring country, As-Safir newspaper reported on Tuesday.
He told the daily: “Our negotiations to release all the pilgrims failed because of the complexity of the case.” “What will Turkey gain in delaying their release? What is it seeking to achieve if its interests are being harmed?” he asked. “How could Turkey have kidnapped the pilgrims? Does it have control over Syrian territories?” he wondered.
“It cannot be responsible for the abductions that have been taking place and it only intervened in the case from a humanitarian approach and in return it was met with a second abduction of Turkish nationals in Lebanon in less than a year,” said Ozyildiz.
Commenting on the kidnapping of two Turkish pilots in Lebanon on Friday, the ambassador said: “The case is in the hands of Lebanon’s security and political authorities.” He added that he is in contact with all security officials, including General Security chief Abbas Ibrahim, to follow up on the case.
Ozyildiz said however that Turkey’s decision to advise its citizens against traveling to Lebanon is only a preliminary measure and further ones will be taken if any new development takes place in the case of the two pilots.
A Turkish pilot and co-pilot were kidnapped on Friday. Six gunmen intercepted a van carrying the Turkish Airlines employees from Rafik Hariri International Airport to a hotel in the Ain Mreisseh seafront at dawn Friday, kidnapping the two pilots – Murat Akpinar and Murat Agca – but leaving the four other crew members behind.
Mohammad Saleh, a relative of the pilgrims held in Aazaz, was arrested on Sunday in connection to the kidnapping.
Saleh is a Witness not Participant
A widely-informed security source told As Safir: “He revealed the names of the individuals linked to the abduction.” He also said that the pilots were kidnapped in a hope to exchange them with the nine pilgrims.
Saleh’s relatives denied to As Safir however that their son was linked to the case, saying that he only received messages of congratulations on his telephone when news of the abduction broke out.
Meanwhile, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told As Safir that Saleh is considered as a witness in the kidnapping and not a participant. His release from custody is in the hands of the General Prosecution, he added.
FM: Turkey Can Help Free Pilgrims
Caretaker Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour said that Turkey was able to play a major role in helping free nine Lebanese hostages held by Syrian rebels since last year.
“Lebanese people ask: Is it possible that after over a year, Turkey, with all its influence, cannot make fruitful efforts? … We deal with Turkey as a friendly state, we urge it to make efforts [to resolve the case], and we believe it can reach a positive outcome,” Mansour told The Daily Star in an interview at the Foreign Ministry in Beirut.
“I once told a Turkish security official in a meeting that no one believes Turkey can do nothing when it controls the situation in northern [Syria] and supports the opposition,” he said.
“He answered [by] saying: ‘The kidnappers are not under the control of the Syrian opposition.’ But this is an unconvincing answer,” Mansour added.
A senior Syrian Kurdish leader has rejected earlier reports that Kurds are planning to establish an independent Kurdish government in northern Syria.
China’s Xinhua news agency on Sunday quoted Salih Muslim, the leader of the Democratic Union Party (PYD), as saying, “There is no intention among the Kurds to form their own government, nor to secede from Syria.”
On Saturday, Qatar-based al-Jazeera news network quoted Muslim as saying that Syria’s Kurds were planning to create a “temporary autonomous government to administer their regions in the north.”
The Syrian government has granted the Kurds a certain level of autonomy since 2012 and they are now controlling security of the region.
In recent months, Kurdish fighters, who are opposed to foreign interference in Syria, have been battling foreign-backed militants in the north.
This comes as clashes continued between PYD-linked Kurdish militants and foreign-backed Takfiri militants around several villages in northeastern Syria near the border with Turkey on Saturday.
The Kurdish militants took control of a checkpoint and also seized light weapons, ammunition, a vehicle mounted with a heavy machinegun, and a mortar launcher.
On July 17, the Kurdish fighters took control of the town of Ras al-Ain in the border province of Hasakah, forcing out the al-Qaeda-linked militants.
Foreign-sponsored militancy has taken its toll on the lives of many people, including large numbers of Syrian soldiers and security personnel, since March 2011.
Western powers and their regional allies including the Israeli regime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are supporting anti-Syria militant groups, including al-Qaeda-linked terrorists.
WorldConflictReport · January 1, 2013
The US and its allies have been campaigning against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in their news outlets since the unrest began in the country. The United States and Israel have tried to use Turkish Prime Minister Recep Teyyeb Erdogan as a tool to keep the Syrian government away from Hezbollah and Iran. Refugee camps in Turkey have turned into training centers by groups such as al-Qaeda and people who are not Syrian refugees by no means.
In this edition of INFocus we set out an investigative mission in Turkey to uncover its pivotal role in Syria’s insurgency. We will also describe how foreign countries such as America, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Libya are sending weapons into the country.
A Turkish court has blocked a redevelopment project for Istanbul’s Taksim Square after the country was rocked by four weeks of anti-government protests.
The court ruling is seen as a big blow to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who had strongly backed the project, but is also seen as a victory for the opposition that has been staging nationwide rallies against it.
Istanbul has been the epicenter of anti-government demonstrations since May 31, when the police broke up a sit-in staged at Taksim Square to protest against the redevelopment plan which involved the demolition of Gezi Park.
The Turkish protesters said Gezi Park, which is a traditional gathering point for rallies and demonstrations as well as a popular tourist destination, is one of Istanbul’s last public green spaces.
The protests soon spread to other cities across the country and turned into calls for the resignation of the Turkish prime minister.
Several people have been killed in the violent crackdown on peaceful protesters, who Erdogan has described as foreign-backed extremists and terrorists.
Last week, Turkish artists, journalists, and authors placed full-page advertisements in several newspapers, asking Erdogan to stop using divisive language.
On June 24, Erdogan praised the “legendary heroism” of police forces in quelling anti-government protests.
The Turkish prime minister has faced international condemnation for his handling of the crisis. Turkish police have been also strongly criticized for using excessive force against the peaceful protests.
- Turkey will consider protesters staying at Taksim terrorists, official says (alethonews.wordpress.com)