Saturday, 17 October 2015

’Turkey has become a Dangerous Place’

Darko Lazar

A veteran journalist currently based in Beirut, who has done a fair share of work with Turkish media outlets, told me over a cup of coffee the other day that "Turkey has become a dangerous place." 
’Turkey has become a Dangerous Place’

His observation of the current state of affairs in Turkey -though it may sound like an oversimplification - is very appropriate indeed.

Last Saturday, Ankara became the sight of the worst single terrorist attack in Turkey's history, killing more than 90 people and leaving over 500 injured.

The target was a peace rally. The prime suspects: the Daesh terror group, and the Kurdistan Workers' Party [PKK]. No group, however, has claimed responsibility for the attack and, in true Erdogan fashion, the media has been banned from reporting on the investigation. So the rest of the story pretty much writes itself; Ankara's failed foreign and domestic policies have given rise to the deadliest wave of terror that the Middle East has ever known, and Turkey will not be exempt from the bloodshed.

One would assume that such a narrative would worry Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, especially with the looming snap elections slated for November 1st. But this appears to be exactly what Erdogan's ruling AK Party is banking on to regain the parliamentary majority it lost back in June.

Joaquins Flores is the Director of the Center for Syncretic Studies in Belgrade and he thinks that the "AKP now needs to employ a strategy of tension to get re-elected. Bush did this; Netanyahu did this. Given how much Erdogan has taken other strategies from these two men, it would not be surprising if he also employed a strategy of tension, or chaos." Flores adds that this strategy "may include the use of false flags and state-sponsored domestic terrorist attacks on civilians."

During the general elections on June 7th, the AKP were dealt a disappointing blow when they failed to acquire the parliamentary majority that Erdogan hoped would grant him the power to change Turkey's constitution. An even bigger surprise came from the Kurdish-affiliated People's Democratic Party [HDP], which was running for the first time and won a sizeable 13.1% of the vote. Faced with the grueling task of having to appease political rivals in order to form a coalition government, Erdogan opted for a snap election instead.
To make matters worse, widespread allegations of Ankara's support for terrorist groups in Syria came to a climax in the weeks leading up to the polls in June. Turkey's Cumhuriyet daily published photographs and posted videos online of trucks belonging to the country's intelligence services transporting weapons to Syrian militants, including Daesh.

According to prominent whistleblower Fuat Avni, Erdogan was furious over the revelations.

"Erdogan ordered the critical media to be silenced", Anvi wrote on Twitter. But despite the government's ensuing crackdown on Turkey's media, the AKP still had a poor showing at the polls.

The head of the Ankara-based SESA Institute of political social and economic studies, Dr. Bilal Sambur, is not surprised by this outcome. "Under the current circumstances, the Turkish political situation does not allow any party to come to power alone. There will probably be a coalition government after the November 1st elections, unless an extraordinary development happens", Dr. Sambur said. 

’Turkey has become a Dangerous Place’

Extraordinary or not, by the time summer came around and the November elections were announced, Erdogan was not taking any chances. First he announced military operations against Daesh, following another major terrorist attack that killed over 30 Kurdish activists in southern Turkey. One day later on July 24th, Turkey also launched airstrikes against the PKK, effectively ending a ceasefire with the Kurdish group, which has been in place since 2012.

In his essay, titled ‘War Making and State Making as Organized Crime' and published in 1985 at Cambridge University, Charles Tilly writes that, "War makes states, I shall claim. Banditry, piracy, gangland rivalry, policing, and war making all belong on the same continuum". Tilly defends his thesis by arguing that when a statesmen "produces both the danger and, at a price, the shield against it, he is a racketeer... since governments themselves commonly simulate, stimulate, or even fabricate threats of external war and since the repressive and extractive activities of governments often constitute the largest current threats to the livelihoods of their own citizens, many governments operate in essentially the same ways as racketeers."

In evaluating Erdogan's policies using Tilly's argument, it is perhaps no surprise that "Turkey has become a dangerous place".

Political analyst and journalist for the Sputnik News Agency, Andrew Korybko told me that, "everything that occurred this summer before the snap election announcement was pure posturing and time-buying on the administration's part, since it never wanted to form any kind of coalition government or reach an accommodation with the opposition parties. Crushing the ceasefire with the Kurds was the first step of Erdogan's emergency re-election strategy." Korybko also thinks that, "Erdogan doesn't have any real intention in fighting Daesh; the whole announcement was a ploy to ‘justify' what he had thought would be an imminent invasion of Syria."

In over 12 years under Erdogan's rule, Turkey was silently transformed into a state where repression, censorship and violence are commonly used by the government, with the country's foreign policy centered on supporting terrorism. Manufacturing both the threat and claiming to offer the ‘shield', Erdogan is hoping to maintain his grip on power regardless of the cost. But if June's election results are anything to go by, Erdogan may have his work cut out for him in trying to completely transform Turkey into his own ultra-centralized Sultanate.

Source: al-Ahed News

17-10-2015 | 10:00

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200 Days on Al Saud’s Terrorism against Yemen [Infographics]


Designed by: Nour Fakih

200 Days on Al Saud’s Terrorism against Yemen [Infographics]

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Sayyed Nasrallah: We All Bear Responsibility of Facing Today’s Soft War

Local Editor

Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan NasrallahHezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said on Friday that the Middle-eastern region has been subjected to a multi-phase soft war which everyone of this area must shoulder the responsibility to face it.

During his speech on the third eve of Muharram Hijri month, Sayyed Nasrallah stressed that the major cause of the soft war is the evolution of communication means that opens the opportunity for such an attack more than any time ever.

"This soft war works in accordance with several stages regarding the general responsibility and the general affairs," his eminence said.

Sayyed Nasrallah elaborated that in the first stage, the enemies of the region started to exploit the geographical demarcation, by stressing that every national citizen should only tackle his country's affair without interfering in other countries', he elaborated.

"This stage greatly managed to achieve its goal in the Arab and Muslim world, with the help of difficulties, frustration, limitations, and the feel of disability to obtain victory. This is how every state and every people started to think of themselves only."

In the second stage, the enemies entered into each country, one by one, and divided the responsibilities and concerns, he stated, adding that "after we were talking about the Lebanese concern or the national concern, we started to talk about Shiite, Christian, Druze, and Sunni concerns."

"They divided the national responsibilities in Lebanon. After Sectarianism, they dragged us to regionalism, and every community says that it has nothing to with the other community."

"The most horrible illustration of this stage is the level of decadence that we have reached in the country following the trash crisis, where landfills turned into a confessional and sectarian affair," Sayyed Nasrallah said.

His eminence indicated that the fourth stage is the goal of Satan, in which every individual's concern will be his own affairs "which is the greatest catastrophe that a man can ever suffer."
"We are in the middle of the clearest intellectual, mental and religious battle, yet the infiltration of media and the tyrant powers has reached our minds and is messing up with our axioms.

"They are presenting ideas that are contrary to humanity, because a man has responsibilities toward other people regardless of their color or ideologies. These responsibilities may increase or decrease, but they exist," he added.

"On the religious level, Islam is a religion of reason and common sense, and the biographies of the prophets show that they fought for humanity and the removal of injustice. Islam is a religion which provides that followers assume the responsibility towards others," Sayyed Nasrallah highlighted, pointing that everyone of the Arab and Muslim world must pay attention to this fraud that is not related to the mind or religion.

Moreover, his eminence stressed that "the most significant ratification of bearing the overall responsibility is the sacrifice of Imam Hussein (AS) when he faced the biggest threat then to Islam and Muslims, i.e. the presence of Yazid. Thus the absolute priority of Imam Hussein (AS) became to confront this tyrant."

"Among his goals was saving Islam and the nation, and revealing the fact that if that ruler who would have caused a disaster if he ruled Muslims for decades," he went on to say.

"Imam Hussein (AS) achieved this goal through his martyrdom," Hezbollah Secretary General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah concluded.

Source: Al-Manar Website
16-10-2015 - 23:06 Last updated 16-10-2015 - 23:25

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Syrian Army Restores Northern Aleppo Town, Kills & Wounds Dozens of ISIL Gunmen

Syrian Arab ArmyThe Syrian army managed on Saturday to restore security to the Hweija town in northern Aleppo countryside, after launching a military operation against the dens of the so-called 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant' (ISIL) takfiri group, leaving scores of its terrorists killed or wounded.

The national military also killed a large numbers of ISIL and Al-Nusra Front terrorists, gaining more progress in different Syrian territories.

In Lattakia, 300 terrorists at least killed in operations carried out by the army and the armed forces against dens of the terrorist organizations in Salma and the mountains surrounding it in the northern countryside of the coastal Lattakia province.

In Hama, a number of the Takfiri terrorist organizations’ members killed and others injured in airstrikes against their dens in Oqairibat, al-Ankawi and al-Ziara in the northern countryside of the central Hama province.

In Deir Ezzor, units of the army positioned at Deir Ezzor Airport killed 18 ISIL terrorists over the past 24 hours.

Field sources told state-run SANA news agency that among the killed terrorists, a self-claimed leader from the ISIL Abu Yusuf al-Iraqi along with 15 terrorists from his group, in addition to terrorist Ahmed Abboush and terrorist Siraj Eddin Jasem al-Eiada.

The sources added that a vehicle and varied ammunition belonging to ISIL terrorists were destroyed in the clashes in the surroundings of the airport.

In Homs meanwhile, a unit of the army and the armed forces destroys a store of ammunition belonging to the terrorist organizations in Um Sharshouh village in the northern countryside of the central Homs province.

Source: Al-Manar Website
17-10-2015 - 12:10 Last updated 17-10-2015 - 12:10

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What’s Behind the Explosions of Violence in Palestine? ~ The Destruction of Religious Sites and “Extrajudicial Executions” of Palestinian Teenagers

When people’s schools, hospitals and mosques are purposefully bombed, when an illegal blockade strangles their economy, when they are deprived of electricity and water and when their homes and places of worship are taken over brutally, it is no wonder they will resist and fight against those committing those acts. With this rash of summary executions of Palestinian youths, seemingly sanctioned by the state
If what we see going on in Israel-Palestine is not yet a third Intifada, one may not be far off. As presented in the mainstream press, the stabbings of Israeli settlers, the rock-throwing, the mass uprisings, all seem chalked up to some inexplicable proclivity toward violence on the part of Palestinians. Nothing could be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that this wave of violence comes in response to an on-going campaign to desecrate and destroy holy sites that anchor non-Jewish peoples to their faiths — not only are mosques being destroyed, so too are Catholic churches.
Church of Tabga, Tiberiade, Lake of Galilee
Most egregiously, Israeli groups are attempting to replace the al-Aqsa mosquewith a Jewish temple. In mid-September “Israeli forces entered the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound’s southern mosque on Tuesday sparking the third straight day of violent clashes at the third holiest site in Islam.
Dozens of Palestinians were injured in the clashes, during which Israeli forces fired stun grenades, tear gas canisters and rubber-coated steel bullets at Palestinian worshipers.” These efforts are part of what is called “temple activism.”

RELATED ~ Mustafa Barghoti: “Young Palestinians tired of oppression”

Parallel to the illegal destruction of Palestinian homes and the building of settlements, what we find here is the destruction and appropriation of holy sites.
It is important to note that this purposeful destruction of religious institutions continues a process we witnessed during Israel’s attack on Gaza last summer:
In the aftermath of Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 51-day military assault, the Palestinians in Gaza are faced with the huge task of reconstruction. Most of the shattered civilian infrastructure can be replaced, but Palestine’s cultural heritage in Gaza, built over a thousand years and more, has been damaged irrevocably. Many of Gaza’s most ancient sites have been left in ruins by Israel’s attack on the territory. Houses of worship, tombs, charity offices and cemeteries have all been damaged by the shelling, but Gaza’s historic mosques have been the worst affected. Many of these sites date back to the time of the first Islamic caliphs, the Ottoman Empire and the Mamluk Sultanate.
Protective Edge damaged 203 mosques, of which 73 were destroyed completely. Two churches were also damaged, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Endowments and Religious Affairs. The targeting of mosques by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in the latest offensive was three times more than in the 2008-2009 attack, the ministry’s report said.
 The current clashes over the Noble Sanctuary have been depicted in the mainstream press in the usual fashion — omitting or distorting key details to make it appear that there is nothing that warrants the violence coming from Palestinians. The Institute for Middle East Understanding has issued acorrective to that. Two key points stand out. The IMEU notes that while some news accounts assert that Israelis pushing for greater access to the Noble Sanctuary mosque (known as the Temple Mount to Jews) just want religious freedom, what we actually find is the appropriation of another religion’s holy sites.
The right-wing Israeli individuals and groups that are pushing for more access and Jewish prayer in the Noble Sanctuary want to remove the Muslim holy sites that it houses and replace them with a Jewish temple. On its website, one of the movement’s most prominent organizations, the Temple Mount and Land of Israel Faithful Movement, declares as its objective:
“Liberating the Temple Mount from Arab (Islamic) occupation. The Dome of the Rock and the Al Aqsa mosque were placed on this Jewish or biblical holy site as a specific sign of Islamic conquest and domination. The Temple Mount can never be consecrated to the Name of G-d without removing these pagan shrines.”
Second, IMEU debunks the idea that Israeli authorities reject attempts to change the status quo in the Noble Sanctuary and oppose actions by Jewish extremists that provoke tensions over it:
While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he has no intention of changing the status quo in the Noble Sanctuary, senior officials in his current and previous governments have openly called for the construction of a Jewish temple in the Noble Sanctuary, including Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of the extreme right wing Jewish Home party and Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely of Netanyahu’s Likud party. In July 2013, then-Housing and Construction Minister Ariel declared to an “archeological conference” in the occupied West Bank: “We’ve built many little, little temples… but we need to build a real Temple on the Temple Mount.”
 Without this context the violence we are witnessing now seems inconceivable. But a people deprived of their land, their resources, their human rights, indeed of thousands of their loved ones, is reacting now to the destruction and appropriation of an essential set of cultural and religious sites. These acts of destruction are not random — they are targeted acts of intimidation and brutality, and as racist and bigoted in nature as the burnings of black churcheswe saw in the US south last July.
And it is predominantly young Palestinian people, seeing what they consider the brutal theft of their religion and culture, who are paying a disproportionate price in an asymmetrical war — knives and stones against armor-plated vehicles and heavily protected soldiers with rifles with laser sights.
Here are excerpts from Amnesty International’s report on the killing of a young woman, 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun, an event they termed an “extrajudicial execution”:
Israeli soldiers shot and mortally wounded 18-year-old Hadeel al-Hashlamoun after they stopped her at a checkpoint in the Old City in Hebron. Pictures of the stand-off that led to her death and accounts by eyewitnesses interviewed by Amnesty International show that she at no time posed a sufficient threat to the soldiers to make their use of deliberate lethal force permissible. This killing is the latest in a long line of unlawful killings carried out by the Israeli forces in the occupied West Bank with near total impunity…
According to [one witness], Abu Aisheh, the soldier who had shot first got up and moved closer to her, until he was about a metre away, and then shot at her upper body four or five times again while she was lying motionless on the ground. He said that the soldier shot a few times despite other soldiers yelling at him to stop.
 Israeli authorities claim that a metal detector found that al-Hashlamoun had a knife, but this has been disputed. Amnesty International addresses this possibility:
Even if al-Hashlamoun did have a knife, Israeli soldiers, who are protected with body armour and heavily equipped with advanced weapons, could have controlled the situation and arrested her without threatening her life. Open fire regulations of the Israeli military in the occupied West Bank allow soldiers to open fire only when their lives are in imminent danger, and Amnesty International concludes that this was not the case in the shooting of al-Hashlamoun, as she was standing still and separated from the soldiers by a metal barrier. There was no attempt to arrest al-Hashlamoun, according to the eyewitnesses, or to use non-lethal alternatives. To then shoot al-Hashlamoun again multiple times as she lay wounded on the ground indicates that her killing was an extrajudicial execution.
Obviously both sides of the conflict will have their version to present when asked about many of these sorts of incidents. Yet a pattern of obfuscation, misinformation, distortion, unequal punishment and immunity from prosecution is emerging. For example, the New York Times reported the killing of two Palestinian youths in the occupied West Bank last year: “Mohammad Mahmoud Odeh Salameh, 16, and Nadeem Siam Nawara, 17, were fatally shot in the chest during a demonstration in Beitunia, a West Bank town outside Ramallah. A spokeswoman for the Israeli military said the matter was still under investigation but no live bullets had been fired — an assertion disputed by Palestinian officials.”
New York Times story also reports another, quite different version of this event: “Ahmad Badwan of the Palestinian Medical Relief Committee, whose ambulances attended to the victims, disputed [that] account in an interview, saying the protest ‘began peacefully’ and ‘turned into violence when the Israeli Army used live fire to disperse stone throwers.’” So far, both sides have equal claim to the truth.
Yet a videotape shows that neither boy was actively participating in the protest or posing a threat to Israeli soldiers when shot. And the result of a forensics investigation refutes the Israeli claim that their forces were not using live ammunition:
After undertaking an autopsy of the body of Nadim Nawarah, 17…, forensic pathologists have determined that a live bullet was the cause of his death. The Palestinian teenager was killed by Israeli forces on May 15 during clashes in the West Bank town of Beitunia… At the request of the Nawarah family, Al Haq, Defense for Children International-Palestine, Physicians for Human Rights and B’Tselem coordinated the attendance of the international forensic pathologists.
Responding to the conclusions of the autopsy, the four non-government organizations stated: “These findings underline the urgency of our demand that the criminal investigation into the Beitunia killings be conducted efficiently and concluded promptly.”
 And that is what Representative Betty McCollum (D-Minn) too is demanding. In a letter to Ambassador Anne Woods Patterson and Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski, McCollum notes:
Nadeem’s murder was captured on video by local security cameras as well as [by] international journalists. One can literally watch the murder of this Palestinian teenager as he walks innocently down the street. A 16-year-old youth, Mohammed Dahar, was shot and killed in the same location, one hour after Nadeem’s murder. Like Nadeem, Mohammed was innocently walking down the street, and his murder was also captured on video.
 McCollum then makes three critical requests, stating:
1) The case must be raised with Israeli officials, impressing on them that the US government expects a fair, transparent and credible trial. The person(s) responsible for the murder of this Palestinian youth must be held accountable;
2) I would request that a US State Department official be present to observe the conduct of the trial to ensure appropriate standards of justice are achieved;
3) Finally, I request the State Department investigate whether the killing of Nadeem Nawara and Mohammed Daher constitute violations of the “Leahy Law.” If a Leahy Law violation occurred, then the 38th Company of the Israeli Border Patrol should be ineligible to receive future US military aid and training, and all border police involved in this incident should be denied US visas as stipulated by the law.
 There are three reasons why this letter is extremely important. First, it shows that the killing of Palestinian youths by Israeli soldiers, police and settlers is not uncommon at all; rather, such murders can take place at demonstrations and checkpoints, but also on quiet streets, and with clear pre-meditation. Second, the letter brings out the fact that these actions are materially supported by our US taxpayer dollars, and thus we have a special obligation to, as McCollum does, insist in fair, transparent trials and that those responsible be held accountable. Finally, her letter indicates her concern that justice may not be delivered solely through the agency of the Israeli justice system.
Indeed, routine mishandling of investigations is complemented by a two-tiered system of justice–this is a crucial point. Emily Schaefer Omer-Man, Coordinator of the Criminal Accountability of Israeli Security Forces project for Yesh Din notes:
Israel operates a dual legal system in the West Bank. In practice, this means that a Palestinian and an Israeli settler who stand accused of the same crime, committed in the exact same territory, experience fundamentally separate criminal justice systems, from arrest through interrogation, trial and punishment. The Palestinian is tried under the Israeli Military Court system of laws, procedures and penalties and his or her Israeli settler neighbor is tried under the Israeli civilian criminal justice system.
The result is a system that is both separate and unequal, and which denies basic due process rights to the Palestinian population living under occupation.
The West Bank Jewish settlement of Beitar Ilit is seen through a barbed wire fence, Friday, Sept. 4, 2009. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to approve some hundreds of new housing units in West Bank settlements before slowing settlement construction, two of his aides said Friday, in an apparent snub of Washington's public demand for a total settlement freeze. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Finally, changes in the laws regarding police action have been modified to guarantee that such crimes will only increase. Here is Haaretz’s report on the discussions which recently took place, loosening the constraints on the use of open fire and punishing the parents of children who are convicted of throwing stones (such collective punishment is illegal under international human rights law):
“Until recently, police officers would open fire when their own lives were at risk,” Netanyahu said. “From now on, they will be allowed to open fire — and they will know they have a right to do so — when anyone’s life is in danger.”
The cabinet also decided to take measures against minors over the age of 14 who throw stones, as well as their parents. The measures include revoking stipends of parents whose children are sentenced to prison. The cabinet will examine the legality of fining parents to minors aged 12-14, and imposing bail on parents to minors under the age of 12.
Again, we in the US know very well how “risk” to police officers can be very loosely interpreted. In Israel, a 10-year-old throwing a rock in an officer’s direction now constitutes a “threat” answerable with a live bullet.
A few months ago, over a thousand Black activists, scholars, cultural workers, students and organizations issued a statement of solidarity with Palestinians, and a recent film featuring Ms Lauryn Hill, Danny Glover, Angela Davis, Omar Barghouti, Nora Erakat and many others gives visual expression to that solidarity. These activists draw the parallels between life under Israeli occupation and life under American racism. As Cornel West declared,
There is no doubt that Gaza is not just a “kind of” concentration camp, it is the hood on steroids. Now in the black community, located within the American empire, you do have forms of domination and subordination, forms of police surveillance and so forth, so that we are not making claims of identity, we are making claims of forms of domination that must be connected.
 When people’s schools, hospitals and mosques are purposefully bombed, when an illegal blockade strangles their economy, when they are deprived of electricity and water and when their homes and places of worship are taken over brutally, it is no wonder they will resist and fight against those committing those acts. With this rash of summary executions of Palestinian youths, seemingly sanctioned by the state, it is no wonder that those interested in social and racial justice in the United States will find these stories deeply disturbing, and familiar. And people of conscience will act. We can boycott Israeli products, and academic and cultural institutions, divest from companies that profit from investments in Israel, and call for sanctions. We can answer the call for solidarity emanating from Palestinian civil society — the legal, non-violent movement called BDS.
In so doing we are saying that the status quo is unacceptable and we refuse to go along with it.

David Palumbo-Liu is a Louise Hewlett Nixon Professor at Stanford University, and Professor of Comparative Literature and, by courtesy, English. He serves as the Director of the Undergraduate Program in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. Besides Huffington Post, his blogs appear in Truthout, Boston Review, and Al Jazeera America. Professor Palumbo-Liu also a Contributing Editor for The Los Angeles Review of Books.

R E L A T E D :

1 – New Palestinian Intifada taking shape

2 – The next Intifada: A struggle against the Bantustans

3 – Stop talking about a Third Intifada – Israel’s occupation must end

by David Palumbo-Liu, Intifada-Palestine, from The Huffington Post
Submitted by SyrianPatriots 
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